Too close

2016-06-30-10-46-14

I am currently working on a few ideas for future posts. I have included some parts of each below and would love some feedback

Wild animal selfies

I personally think that we expect too much from animals.  It is almost as if an experience is not rewarding enough unless we get to touch an animal or get as close as possible, regardless of how dangerous the situation, we want to touch and take selfies. I find it a wee bit grimmer when it comes to selfies as these are often not for our own immediate benefit, but rather to feed our ego by gaining as many likes as we can. The even grimmer part of the wild animal selfie comes when we see how many animals are killed, injured and left terrified as a result see https://www.sundaypost.com/news/world-news/cruel-reality-growing-trend-wildlife-selfies/ Do these people not care at all what happens to the animal afterwards?

The need to touch

I recently worked at a bird of prey centre and spent a great deal of time asking people not to touch the birds. I find it to be a huge shame that people come to these centres, where you feel as an employee, that a huge part of your job is to keep the animals healthy and displaying natural behaviours and you are constantly asking people not to touch them. I feel this this is the most unnatural act, however, some places practice it.

Just recently I saw pictures of a friends’ child stroking large owls at some outdoor event. With such pictures doing the rounds many now believe that their day at any animal centre is not complete if they didn’t touch anything. This is crazy when you think that it should be about seeing the animal, we are lucky to have that opportunity, and then we just want to reduce that fantastic animal to a cuddly toy. It’s terrible animal welfare for any place to allow this behaviour because it just feeds the need to touch. Quite often animal centres will make money from allowing people to touch animals and also get more repeat customers by using this as a selling point.

Many zoos and animal centres offer educational handling sessions/experiences which can be a fantastic way to get up close to some amazing creatures, and, at least in most cases, the animals being handled are far more suited to the experience and you get to learn something too.

I even had one guy at the centre stroke a barn owl that was on my glove about to be flown, he didn’t ask, he just did it. I told him off because in my opinion this is not what you do, he then informed me that at other centres he had been allowed to touch the birds and complained to my boss about me for telling him off. The entire experience was very uncomfortable and the guy was very lucky he wasn’t injured. He was clearly mortified about being told off and instead of apologising he felt the need to complain. Which brings me to my next question…?

Why do we feel so entitled?

I think we all understand the wanting to touch cute things, we grow up playing with soft toys resembling many species, especially cute ones and this fosters the need to touch. While I am certainly not saying we shouldn’t own soft toys, I think we need to be better educated when it comes to living animals both wild and captive.

It bothers me when you see people in the street approach a dog on a lead and pet the dog without asking first. This is not only rude, but extremely inconsiderate, how do we know that it’s OK to pet the dog? We don’t know that dog’s history, we are unlikely to know the owner, but we just think “I want to touch that dog” and we do. Don’t even get me started on feeding others animals as that is a whole post on its own.

Maybe, just maybe, we can consider ourselves fortunate to be able to see these animals, to want to touch, but to always have them slightly and safely out of reach.

What do you think?

Mr Scientist – Chapter 1

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One

  I have a job for you

The bedroom window was open as it was a very balmy night, it wasn’t open wide, just wide enough to let some air in. The first cat was a large male, I first noticed that he was sat on the window sill and barely had enough time to see a terrible rash all over his body before two more cats came in and all three ran quickly into my en-suite. I was still in shock from seeing the cats when a tall man entered the room, he was dressed in a black suit and claimed to be a Scientist. He had a large tank in his hand that appeared to be full of animals; I could see many balls of grey fur and right at the very front were two rabbits that looked identical to Bonnie and Lilly, two rabbits that had lived with me many years before. The grey balls of fur were chinchillas all that looked very much like my chinchilla Bruce, who sadly died six years ago.

“I have a job for you”. Mr Scientist explained, he then left the room and returned with two smaller tanks, one larger than the other, both also filled with animals; one tank appeared to be filled with insects and large spiders whilst the other seemed to be full of fancy mice and small birds.

“What is the job?” I asked.

“It is a research position”. He replied. He then handed me two envelopes. “Open these envelopes in 48 hours, no sooner, by which time you will have found suitable living quarters for all of these animals”.

“I’m sorry” I replied, “but I really don’t have space for all these animals”.

“Yes you do!” he shouted and went on to open a door that I have never seen before. “Look” he said, opening the door which revealed a huge room the size of a basketball court.

“Wow, I have never seen this room before”. I said, turning round to find that Mr Scientist had disappeared.

I thought back to the cats, typical, I had never had mice, chinchillas and rabbits in this room before and now that I did I had three strange cats, one with what looked like a contagious skin condition, hiding in my en-suite. I decided it would be best to move all three tanks into the large room and get a better idea of what I was dealing with. First I emptied the large tank – a decision I would immediately regret when I realised what was actually inside. As soon as I opened the tank a ferret wearing a muzzle jumped out of both the tank and muzzle and began to run around the room, quickly followed by at least twenty chinchillas and fifteen rabbits, all of which looked identical to either, Bruce, Bonnie or Lilly. I could not bear the thought of witnessing a ferret attack on such obvious prey, so decided to make a harness out of some braces I had in my room. When I realised exactly how big this tank was, I thought about the other two tanks, perhaps I could split up the animals in the other tanks between the three tanks. Mr Scientist had said that I must find suitable accommodation for all of these animals after all.

Looking closer at the smaller tanks I realised that the spider and insect tank housed only tarantulas and crickets, should I separate them? If I took the crickets out, what would I feed the tarantulas? I decided to leave them in. That left the tank containing the mice and birds, these must be separated. I chose to keep the mice in the small tank and move the birds into the larger tank until I could find something more suitable, this task was a lot easier than I thought, I just put the smaller tank into the larger tank, opened the door and all the birds flew into the large tank leaving me with a small tank filled with around fifteen fancy mice.

Now what about these three cats? Were they part of my task? Mr Scientist hadn’t left any contact details and seemed rather serious about me not opening the envelopes for at least 48 hours. What should I do? I went to see if the cats were still in the en-suite and indeed they were. As I opened the door the large male – who I will now call Scabby, began hissing at me, the smaller cats were both asleep on the floor. I slowly reached out to see if it was possible to calm Scabby down, but he let out a loud screech and scratched my arm. Fantastic, I guess this means that the cats want to live in my en-suite.

Now I had found somewhat suitable accommodation for all the animals, I decided it was time to make a wee shopping list. What did I need? My first thought was hay. I would cover parts of the basketball court in hay, loads of hay. What about the birds? Bird food was needed and definitely branches. The mice? Mouse food and wood again. The cats? Cat food and definitely something for Scabbys’ skin condition. There seemed to be more than enough crickets to keep the tarantulas going, thankfully.

I can’t drive so I am going to need to let someone in on my task, although for some reason I get the impression this isn’t such a good idea, at least not until the 48 hours are up and I know what the actual task is. My thoughts kept returning to Scabby, his skin condition looked awful, and if these cats were part of my task, did the en-suite count as suitable accommodation? I couldn’t think of anyone I could share this with. I guess I could just go to a big pet shop and get a taxi home.

I headed out to pets at home (I know, but needs must) as I knew I could get everything there, even branches. I will admit the whole basketball court full of animals excites me somewhat. I hope I get to keep the basketball court when this is all done. As I ticked everything off my list and headed towards the check-out, a sales girl approached me.

“Wow” she said. “That’s a lot of stuff”.

“Yeah” I replied, how observant. She wasn’t finished “What do you need all this for?” nosey.

“An animal sanctuary” more or less the truth I guess. I avoided eye contact as I really couldn’t be bothered with more questions this was my task and mine alone.

I got home, set everything up and released the birds from the large tank into the basketball court, and then remembered the wee ferret. I had left him tied up. I guess I was going to have to keep an eye on him. I picked him up and luckily he seemed rather tame, I named him Hamish and decided that he would be my new pal.

“Come on then, Hamish; let’s see what we can do for Scabby”.

“I will help you if you don’t make me wear that muzzle” Hamish said.

“You talk?” I did not believe it, but I guess all of this was rather strange.

“Yes, sometimes too much which is why I’m always wearing that muzzle”.

“I thought that was to stop you eating the animals”.

“I wouldn’t eat my friends”.

“Do you know what’s wrong with Scabby?”

“He has an attitude problem”.

I like this ferret. “No, I mean his skin?”

“It looks ok to me”.

“What?” I said looking round at Scabby, “Haven’t you seen the state of his f….”

I turned round to see Scabby, sat on my toilet cleaning himself, without any sign of a skin problem.

“But earlier, he was covered in scabs and he looked contagious”.

“He has many ways to keep people away”.

Ahh, this is all too weird. I am talking to a ferret. This was exhausting, I was now down to around 42 hours, but I guess I have done what was asked? Had I?

“Do you know anything about my task?” I asked Hamish.

“I assume you got the research position and not the lab technician role?”

“A lab technician role? What kind of lab?”

What have I got involved in?

“They have a few different types of labs, it’s all kept rather hush-hush as the public tend not to approve”.

“I don’t think I approve”. Where do you stand on all this?”

Hamish looked rather upset. “I am very much against it, but also rather grateful”.

“Grateful?”

“Yes, I am grateful that a failed experiment means I can talk. I will never be considered replaceable. A talking ferret is rather valuable to Science”.

“Wow. What about the rest of the animals?”

“I am the only talking subject left from my generation. Back then we were mainly used for testing painkillers, painkillers intended or human infant use.”

“Is that when you found you could talk?”

“That was during a study on pain and vocalisations, I am not sure how it happened exactly, and I just remember one day I found that I was able to think out loud. It’s just a shame that the rest of the animals cannot”.

“What tests do they do now?”

“It’s mainly cosmetics and household products. It’s much harder to justify than testing for the sake of children”.

I nodded in agreement, although I still could not believe I was having this conversation with a ferret.

“Do you know what happens to these animals at the end of my task?”

“They will go back to the lab”.

This was depressing. What had originally felt like a dream was now feeling like my worst nightmare, literally.

My head was racing. What kind of test was this? Could I get out of it? I got the impression it was best not to ask Hamish too many questions at the moment. Was my task to save these animals? Perhaps that’s what was meant by finding them suitable accommodation? Did I feel capable of giving these animals back to Mr Scientist knowing their fate? Especially considering that so many of them so closely resembled animals that I had loved in the past. I thought back to the lion-head rabbits and chinchillas in the basketball court. They were identical to Bonnie, Lilly, and Bruce. Was this a coincidence?

I decided it was best to look around for more clues. I left Hamish sleeping in my bed and went into the basketball court to have a look.

Read chapter 2 here Mr Scientist – Chapter 2

From wow to how?

Why do we accept less than we deserve in order to pursue our dreams? Many of us do it. We may work for free to gain more experience in our field. We may do unpaid internships. However, when it comes to paid work, why do we take less than we should? We do this because we feel lucky to have such an amazing job, right? However, is it really such an amazing job if we must sacrifice our rights and accept questionable pay in exchange for our work? It may be a zero hours contract, no contract, never-ending trial periods, unpaid working hours and even below minimum wage. Are we not belittling our own worth? Whilst setting a standard that means future employees can either work for the same, or be considered a pain to simply expect what they are legally entitled to.

These things are bad enough, but it gets worse. When you work for someone who has so little respect for their employees, it rarely stops there. Your boss can do what they want to you, they may say things that a real boss wouldn’t be permitted to say to you. You are leaving yourself open to discrimination, bullying and you can never trust that your work will be acknowledged or rewarded. By accepting less than you deserve, you are at the mercy of your boss. They know they have a hold over you. You have the most amazing job in the world, why would you ever leave? Why would you dare question the system? Often, by accepting these terms you become complicit in this illegal act. Your employer knows this. How do you think they sleep at night? It’s very difficult to work for someone you don’t trust and without a contract there is very little you can do about it. This will lead to resentment. It is not healthy and it will affect you and your work.You may feel constantly on edge, knowing that at any moment you could be replaced by someone willing to work for even less. This is when we must listen to our gut instinct.

It’s not always easy to trust your gut instinct when pursuing your dreams. Yet, this is perhaps when we should trust it the most. If your gut instinct is telling you it’s not right when it feels like it is the best opportunity in the world, listen to it, trust it. I’m not suggesting you should never go against your gut, there are times when we say we have a gut instinct about something, when it fact we just don’t want to do it. However, we seem to be pretty good at listening to our gut when it comes to our personal lives, so I think we should pay the same attention to our professional lives. Chances are if you have found yourself in this situation, you have finally found the most amazing job in the world; you have worked extremely hard for it. You may have studied for many years, volunteered hundreds of hours of your time for free to gain more experience in your field. You have probably supported yourself along the way working in many jobs just to pay the bills, believing this would all lead to you getting that amazing job you deserve. Keep going. You will find that job. However, if you are working for less than you know you truly deserve, listen to your gut, this is not that job.

 

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear from anyone that can relate to this post.

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