January 31, 2009

Au Revoir: Travels of the family kind

No, I am not going anywhere, unfortunately, but this weekend is the start of the travels for my children. There is a gathering this afternoon to farewell my son and daughter in law, James and Jess, as they set off to be International Workers in Bangladesh, although they don't actually leave New Zealand until Wednesday morning. The reality of that is only starting to sink in now, so I expect it will be an emotional week. Their blog link is on my blog roll...

Tomorrow, the other three, Kirsty, Liam and Alex, leave with their father for their trip to Utah to ski at Park City and then go to Disneyland. This is a great opportunity for them to have some fun time together, although life here will seem a bit quiet and different for a while... cold turkey practice for my empty nest syndrome, but the internet and skype will be a help too. I will of course miss them all very much, and although the lack of noise and clutter will be a novelty, it will seem strange that I will have no children at home for the first time in 25 years.

Anyway, work is busy, gearing up for loads of new students. We have more than ever, probably due to the recession! Will be great to see them return from last year and then meet all the new faces.
There will, thankfully, be other people around... friends, my wonderful parents, the lovely Phoebe's family...and last but certainly not least, my partner :)

Speaking of Phoebe, not only has she has finally realised that sucking her toes is physically possible, but, to her parent's immense delight, can stay asleep for a full 12 hours when she finds her thumb.

For the kitten followers.. here is an update on Scylla, seen below, reclining regally on her faux fur cushion. She is getting a lot more ginger in her colouring now and is very elegant. She also fetches when you throw toys, and likes to practice hunting!

What price progress? Check these out - Google maps have confessed to a wee accident!!!
The pics are here:
Will leave you with Beatrice...and get ready for the first Au Revoir.. now where are those special aloe vera tissues!!!!


January 27, 2009

Working with wildlife in New Zealand

Christchurch is lucky to have three wildlife reserves in the city. More than most can offer. I wrote about the private conservation park, Peacock Springs, last year here. As well as this, we have Orana Park Wildlife Trust, and Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. These amazing places are both on the west side of the city, near Peacock Springs, and all feature the local, beautiful natural water springs. Here are some great private photos of Orana Park.
Water Buffalo beside one of the streams...

They are famous for successfully breeding the White Rhino.

I have been lucky to meet so many of the people associated with these places and visit them regularly. Many of the students that come to our programmes are volunteers there, and some have gone on to become keepers.
Shaun was one of my first students when I started 11 years ago, and now he is actively involved in the Kiwi Recovery Programme at Willowbank. After meeting up with him again when I took my partner to see their amazing dinner and night tour last year, Shaun agreed to came onto a local television show with me to discuss his work. It was fascinating.

As well, New Zealand has many other parks and zoos, the main zoos being in Wellington, Hamilton and Auckland.

Another past student, Chantal, originally worked with both Orana Park and Peacock Springs, and went on from vet nursing to do her 'Captive Wild' studies in Auckland.

Chantal is now working at Auckland Zoo and the Auckland newspaper wrote about her here.
She said:
I care for animals in the exotic bird section. In the six main enclosures we have a variety of Australian birds, like cockatoos, and others like the blue and gold macaws. I'm also responsible for the wallaby paddocks where we also keep mara (a South American rodent), bats and flying foxes.

I spend around five hours a day with the animals. My daily routine ranges from preparing food and making up diets through to cleaning, maintaining, and repairing cages.
When I visited Auckland Zoo, getting a special behind the scenes walk, I met up with her again when she was taking time off from her usual bird department to work with the Orang Utan conditioning programme.

These creatures are uncannily human.

Watching the keepers working with them was incredibly moving, and as I had been cautioned to stand very quietly and watch the process, all I could do was cry silently to let out the emotion.... in fact it was a day I will never forget and I often watch the New Zealand Zoo TV programme that is filmed there and relive parts of the day!

Auckland Zoo is particularly exciting as it has a Conservation Medicine Centre, with cameras showing the operations to the public, and a big glass viewing gallery where the staff can be seen working... this may seem great to the public, but the vets and vet nurses probably feel like they are on Big Brother!

This $4.6 million, 980m2 state-of-the-art facility is the first national centre for conservation medicine in the world, and is a place where visitors can view our veterinary team in action!

NZCCM VetsAccessible from 9.30am to 4.00pm daily, the NZCCM's public viewing gallery offers visitors clear views into the centre's laboratory, large treatment room and operating theatre.

For some years, one of our qualified students, Angelina, worked with us at the polytech. After returning to small animal practice, she was recently offered a six month position at Wellington Zoo.

This photo shows her administering the injection to sedate the lion as it was transferred from Wellington, down here to Orana Park... read about that here.
On Tuesday 23 December the lions left the Zoo to both complete this final rite of passage and do their bit for the conservation of their species, through a one-year breeding loan to Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch.

Malik and Zulu came to Wellington Zoo as four-month old cubs from Auckland Zoo in 2004. They now weigh an average of 190kg, a bulk that demanded all hands on deck to lift them up and into travelling crates for their journey across the Cook Strait by ferry.

Her pictures have been wonderful... so for those of you with an interest in working with wildlife as a vet nurse, I will leave you with them. Enjoy...

Red Panda eating grapes...
Spider Monkey surgery....

Amputating a damaged tail from an African Wild Dog

Do you enjoy your work this much?

January 24, 2009

Sun and surf, New Zealand style....

We are having a beautiful weekend... it hovered around 30c all day - and it is another balmy Canterbury night...
We managed to finish oiling the deck and some of the outdoor chairs, which is hard in the heat, but made easier if one of us carries on water blasting in the shade and the other can also stand in the spray to keep cool!

We arranged to meet Phoebe's family at the beach at 5pm- after a bit of chat on facebook, we agreed Gore Bay was too far, and Spencer Park too busy, so we settled on Waikuku.. although I think the actual decider for it was we could get fish and chips there and eat while we were out!

It was gorgeous. I love New Zealand beaches. I lived in Whangarei for many years and spent many hours boogie boarding at Sandy Bay, Whale Bay and Ruakaka... will tell you about that life another day.

The east coast beaches here are long, empty stretches, peppered with surf lifeclubs at regular intervals. Although inclined towards windy, on days like today the cooling off sea breeze made the evening heat more bearable. The sand was still too hot to walk on in places.

Was good to get wet with the girls, and see Phoebe have her first play in the sand... we took all the dogs for a good swim too.

You can see how crowded the beach was...... although if you squinted down the sand, you can see a lot more people at the surf club.
Too dangerous to swim if you are not "between the flags" so we just paddled.
Phoebe approved of the sand - love the drool.... click on the picture to see it larger..
We had fish and chips in the park by the beach before heading back - the girls are all washed and off to bed... Phoebe is now using her cot.

Another of my past students, Toni, was out there today with her dogs Max and Maggie.  They also had fun. Love the pictures


 They enjoyed it enough for some 'hugging' afterwards....

January 22, 2009

Comings and goings

I had the idea that I would ease back into work slowly this week, instead of lazing around and working twice as hard next week... but I could have done without the stress. There have been lots of positives, particularly seeing everyone, and I have completed plenty of paperwork, but some of the issues have been stressful and clouded over the good stuff. Today I am working from home... possibly playing ostrich, but I want to focus on what needs doing and then go and do all the other errands before my leave finishes!!

This is going to be an interesting few weeks. My three younger children are going for a three week trip with their father in February, starting with skiing in Colorado and finishing in Los Angeles. Planning finances, getting passports, finding cases... and the house is going to seem very empty for a while!

Four days after they leave, my eldest son and his wife also leave to live in Bangladesh for a year, finishing with a trip to the UK and America/ Canada, including Vancouver to see my brother. They have actually started blogging about it - here. They too are trying to source all the things they need and pack for their trip.

Click here for a google earth link...

So many exciting things... and farewells to face.

The good news is that my brother and his wife arrive here for a holiday, from Vancouver, in early March - so really looking forward to seeing them too.

My friend sent me these photos the other night.. of a pitbull who took on a porcupine.
My issues at work might be frustrating, but they are not this bad :)


January 19, 2009

Dress up pets, dolls and Barbie....

Thanks to The Pet Blog for the following links about Pet Owners that dress up their pets..
..have a look here and here - which was triggered off by RSPCA says people who dress up their dogs could be prosecuted ...

I guess it is all harmless fun, but some people do get a little carried away.

These were taken at a local pet parade..
and how about this - still not sure if they are wearing underpants on their heads!!!...

Anyway I thought of these today when some Phoebe Pix involving dressing up popped into my Mailbox...so meet the adorable infant rocker "Barbie": 

 Thanks to Phoebe's Mum for being creative today :)

January 17, 2009

The Revenge of the Wasps

After my water blasting efforts, the areas where the paint came off now need sanding and painting... so Phoebe's dad offered us his sander. Any excuse to visit the girls never goes amiss, so we headed out for dinner.

Phoebe is teething (oooow), and has learned how to suck noses...
 Her middle sister told her that she was "her rainbow Phoebe" and she loved her best.
Her head control is wonderful, seen here having tummy time with Mum..
and quality bonding with Dad too..
Their vicious spiked Hawthorn hedge has been ripped out and a new fence has been put up this week... but after cutting out a tree, a Wasps nest was found in the ground next to it today. A few stings later they used google to find out what to do with wasp's nests, and as soon as Phoebe was asleep, and the rest of us were watching tv, Action Dad was off to deal with it. My partner decided to capture the fun after nearly being stung earlier when poking them with a stick.
Apparently using a mix of petrol and engine oil is one method... and you don't set fire to it!! We had visions of the new fence going up in flames...
You cover it with a towel ( partner's idea apparently)  to stop them escaping.... and pour the mix onto the towel.


Never peek under the towel!!!
Make sure your exit path is clear!!
Action Dad.... Wasp stings respond well to vinegar... :)


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