Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Hello All, It's been quite a while since I've been on here blogging. Ok, so it's been seven months. Haha Since I last blogged, Paul and I are still together. Yay!! We have been dating 10 months as of tomorrow! In fact, I moved to Bismarck, North Dakota to be with him. I was offered a position at the Dakota Zoo here as a zookeeper. My job in Sioux Falls ended at the end of October. It was hard to leave all of my coworkers and animals, who had all become my friends. I'm happy to be here with Paul, working with animals still and making new animal friends. Even so, I do miss my human and animal friends from Sioux Falls. I have several good friends who lived up here before I got here too. By now, I should be a pro at starting over in a new city I feel like. I have been at this zoo for two months now. The cold is an adjustment here with the frigid North Dakota can't-feel-my-fingers cold. lol Since getting special gloves and boots, I'm good to go for what's ahead. We've already had the twenty below days where I work outside all day long. You may wonder what animals I'm working with here... In Sioux Falls, I was working with reticulated giraffes, black rhinos, grevy zebras, eastern bongos, ostrich, African crowned cranes, meerkats and a hedgehog. Here, I go in with all sorts of canines: gray wolves, Mexican gray wolves, artic foxes, red foxes, swift foxes, and coyotes. I also work with cougars, bobcats, lynx, tigers, snow leopards as well as badgers, porcupines, raccoons and a ton of raptors. There's even a bald eagle that flies around the zoo that hangs out near the eagle exhibit chatting with them from a nearby fence. I also hand feed a Gold eagle who had been shot three times in the head and neck area. For her the hand feeding means to hold her dish for her. Today, as I fed her in the early morning hours, we listened to the church bells go off in the distance for Christmas day. It was beautiful. Even Goldie (the bird), tilted her head to listen. In addition to all of these animals, everyone gets to work with camels, horses, bison, elk, deer, reindeer, goats, cows, donkeys, and moose. Since beginning here, I have been privileged enough to start up an enrichment program for the animals. This is huge for me. All of my work up to this point has paid off. Enrichment is adding or taking away something from an animal's exhibit to make their day different. We also had a training consultant come to the zoo. I am now the primary trainer of the servals and secondary trainer of the tigers, snow leopards, mountain lions and bobcats. Primary means that I am the one training new behaviors. Secondary trainer means I am maintaining their behaviors that they already know. As of now, I am just working with the serval, Serena, on name recognition and target. My main goal is to have her be calm and voluntarily accept an injection. In other news, Marty is sure enjoying running all over the ranch near the house. He runs and plays with Paul's dog, Bull, constantly. He sleeps inside at night and comes inside frequently on the super cold days. I had to increase his food since he has lost weight from running so much. Paul has had a good year. He and his dad just got back from a conference in Springfield, Illinois for ACRES. The conference was centered around soil health. He just finished up his 4th year of teaching as a professor at Bismarck State College last week. And he is adjusting to having a Christmas tree up for the first time for him and rugs down in the bathroom and kitchen. Hahaha These are big adjustments. lol He's a good sport about it all :) What can I say? It's the best time of year! haha Today, Christmas, we celebrated with Paul's dad's side. They are all such nice people and so inviting. It is hard to be away from my family especially on Christmas but celebrating with his family makes it so much better. Yesterday, we celebrated with his mom's side. It was so much fun with playing bingo for presents! haha I cannot wait to go home in just over two weeks to celebrate with my family. Paul will come home with me. My brother will have Mia and Vinnie, so it'll be a special time! I'm so excited! Tomorrow night, we will celebrate Christmas with Paul's immediate family. It will be fun! I will have to update how it goes I suppose that's all for now, Miss you all, Talk often, Love, Nessa

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