Archive for October, 2011

First picture

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Baby Von der Decken's Hornbill

He’s here.

And very curious about everything.

I leave his cage door open and he comes and goes. His wings aren’t clipped and my ceilings are high, which is nice for him and fun to watch. He’s unsure of people, but has already taken two pinkie mice from me. One from inside his cage and other from outside (which is more progressive as he definitely had opportunity to move away from my hand if he wanted).

He makes a deep bleating noise that reminds me of a chicken. He likes to do this especially on top of the cage or on top of the ceiling fan blades. He also likes to peck at everything and is right now destroying a wooden branch inside his cage. Nevermind, I glanced over at him just as a small fluffy ball rolled across the cage floor.

Von der Decken’s Hornbill

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Tonight I’m picking up a baby Von der Decken’s Hornbill from the airport. He was a gift purchased earlier in the month and this week he finally became old enough to safely make the flight from Florida to Arizona.

Weeks ago I was counting down the days until he arrived, but Baby’s poor health had overshadowed a lot of that enthusiasm. I know I’m doing everything I can for Baby and maybe some relaxation with a new focus will be good for me. I’ve noticed that I’ve been very irritated with almost everything this month, which has gotten especially bad the last week. I’ve been very depressed and my appetite and sleep habits are poor.

Right now, I’m trying to get excited again about his arrival. I’ve never met an animal that moved me so deeply as the camel, but I’m also very fond of birds. Before I moved, I was taking care of two Red-Tailed Hawks and over the last few years I’ve raised and released several different species of wild birds (pigeons, vulture, crow, raven, hummingbird, cardinal, finch, sparrow, to name a few). But this is different. I hope to form a relationship with the hornbill that extends beyond temporary care as a means of a passage toward something else.

My ultimate goal is to take him to schools and give educational talks, but that’s a long way down the road. He’s coming to me raised by his parents in a large aviary. His first direct human contact will be this afternoon when he’s placed into a crate and onto a plane. But birds are by nature very curious and I have no doubt he’ll figure things out for himself on his own time.

I look forward to meeting him tonight and to the opportunity to introduce him to new experiences and a new species (humans!).

Too many injections

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Today was Baby’s 6th day of receiving natural Vitamin E at over 10,000 units. I am not really seeing any great improvements. I did notice some possible build in neck muscle, but his back end (specifically his hips) still look underdevelopment and weak. On October 18th, he began receiving Vitamin E gel caps and wheat germ oil. The injections began on October 22nd.

Tonight there was some difficulty giving him the injection. Both sides of his neck are very sore and the Vitamin E is so thick that it takes an considerable amount of time and strength to go through the syringe and into Baby. He has so many injections a day, I feel terrible for him. I hope he understands that I’m trying to help him. He screams so much. Not at the pain, but as soon as he realizes what I’m about to do. I may have to continue the liquid Vitamin E orally now, because of the soreness and possible inflammation. Hopefully, this is not the sole cause of why his neck is appearing more well-rounded these past couple days.

Here’s a list of what Baby is currently being treated with daily:

- Two scoops of grain doused with Wheat Germ oil and topped with 3.5 mg of Selenium/Vitamin E combo
- Four scoops of powdered natural Vitamin E by Elevate (4,000 units) given in Gatorade 2x a day
- One injection of liquid Vitamin E (10,000 units)
- Two oral Probios boluses for ruminants
- Three scoops of alfalfa pellets (to encourage eating)
- One bowl of spinach and/or mustard greens

In addition he’s receiving a four day series of injectable B complex and a three day course of injectable thiamine.

I’ve ordered some Turval probiotics for llamas and alpacas, which I hope will arrive on Saturday. This will be added in with the Probios to help stimulate his appetite and encourage healthy ruminating.

If I don’t see any marked improvements in another week due to the administration of all these vitamins and supplements- other options are going to have to be explored.

Four days to go

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Only 4 days left on KOVA’s Halloween Pet Contest…

Baby is in 2nd place, but is currently 16 votes behind the leader. If you haven’t already registered to vote for him, we would be so grateful if you did- it only takes a second and if you feel uncomfortable putting your full name and phone number online, you can enter any old thing (as long as the email address is valid to confirm). If you did register to vote, you can vote every day until Friday at midnight. Spread the word! And pass along an important message of responsible exotic animal ownership. And that camels are cool.

Helping others

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I haven’t been sleeping or eating well since Baby hasn’t been feeling well. It’s all that’s on my mind. My dreams now only consist of measuring supplements out. I wish I was kidding, but that’s the literal sum of them. My birthday was a few days ago and I barely noticed it.

It’s almost 2am right now and I’m thinking about something that happened the other day.

People can be so kind.

I mentioned on a forum, non-related to animals (nevermind camels!) that Baby was sick and was currently being treated by a vet. Next thing I know I get a private message from one of the forum users asking if he/she could have my PayPal address to donate money to help take care of him. What a wonderful thing to do, it really made my day. The truth is, I could really use the money. You may realize it’s expensive to have a vet come out to your house, but you wouldn’t believe what I’ve spent on injections and supplements!

But that’s not what made me so happy: It was that a random kind stranger read a simple sentence about a camel being ill and decided that he or she wanted to contribute to help this beautiful animal. Humanity can be so amazing and sometimes so terrible all at the same time. Well, thank you, whoever you are. Your gift is appreciated by me and I know it’s appreciated by Baby. I’ve ordered a probiotics supplement by Turval tonight and that donation cut the price in half for me, so thank you.

Baby is worth all the money in the world to me and I’ve been getting every single cent together to give him the best care he can possibly get. He’ll need two more blood tests in a couple weeks and my future goal is to get him into the clinic for an ultrasound on his heart. This is more for me, than it is for him, so is a goal instead of a neccessity.

Tomorrow will mark his fourth injection of Vitamin E at 10,000 units. And today was the first day that I think I noticed some improvement. I don’t want to get too excited yet, he has had good days and bad days with his lameness, but I want to believe the vitamins and probiotics are doing something. I have to.

Vote for Baby in Halloween costume contest

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I entered Baby in a local Halloween costume contest. He (and I) would appreciate your votes! I dressed him up as a ghost by putting a sheet over him and then cutting out the eyeholes around him. He waited patiently through the whole thing. I think you can vote once a day and remember: A vote for Baby is a vote for all of camel-kind! :)

Growing Up

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A pictorial documentary of Baby growing up. A sample of every picture I’ve taken of him from four weeks old to four and a half years.

Low in Vitamin E, but not Selenium

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Baby’s second blood analysis came back today.

The results were unexpected and very unusual, at least in my eyes and the eyes of my vet. Baby is not low on Selenium, but on Vitamin E. In fact, he’s dangerously low and it would seem that this is the cause to all his problems. I’m baffled as how he can be so low on one, but not the other. The supplements that I give my camels are, of course, a combination of both. I’m in a Selenium deficient area, so it would appear that what I give him was doing what it was supposed to do, but somehow not on the Vitamin E side of things? How is this possible? Why is Baby not utilizing the Vitamin E?

He’s on a treatment now of 10,000 units (or more) of Vitamin E a day. I was told I should see improvement in about two weeks. The good thing about Vitamin E, is unlike Selenium, there’s almost no possibility of toxicity. My vet has ordered a Vitamin E injectable that I want her to administer to help jump start things along. For now, I rushed right out after I got the results and bought Vitamin E (without Selenium) from several sources to get him over 10,000 units. He got his first dose last night.

Needless to say, I am very worried and concerned about the damage already occurred to his muscles and the possibility of him never recovering. The vet said there would be no point in giving him an ultrasound right now to look for damage, but after his deficiency has been corrected, I will have her take a look at his heart. I don’t know how I’ll pull through until then. The first day after hearing the news has been hard enough and I don’t know what I’ll do if the damage is irreversible.

The Cactus

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Nessie kindly demonstrates why hundreds of cacti are currently looking for a new home. Free to anyone who wants some.

Some of the cactus are over fifty years old and it would be a shame to destroy them. Fortunately, Brother Mike from San Xavier Mission came by this week and will be coming back every Monday to rescue as many of these beautiful plants as he can. They’ll be carefully transported to the mission and then transplanted around the grounds for others to enjoy for countless years to come. Such a wonderful solution for the camels and the mission! Thanks, Brother Mike.

Camels & Horses

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Camels & Horses: Their Differences and Impact on North America

The question I hear the most about my camels is, “Are they like horses?”

Well, they do both have four legs. They both can be ridden and their husbandry requirements are similar. However, their behavioral differences are night and day.

I wrote this brief essay some time ago to help those without much knowledge of either camels or horses to better understand their basic differences and similarities. I think it also serves the purpose as a nice introduction to what makes camels so unique.