Friday, November 30, 2012

A New Home

Jersey (the Barred Owl), Goober (the Black Vulture) and I all have one thing in common; our stories all begin in the humble state of South Dakota--but that’s not where they end. 

My fascination with raptors began in Rapid City, SD. at Reptile Gardens with an organization by the name of Wildlife Experiences, and also with Jersey and Goober.  Goober and I didn’t get along too well at first, but he has learned to live with me since I came to intern at the World Bird Sanctuary in August 2011. 
Jersey the Barred Owl - a former acquaintance of mine
Wildlife Experiences, which closed in November 2010, opened my eyes to all the wonders of raptors, and their fantastic quirks and personalities.  For months I begged them for a job; little did I know that the closing of Wildlife Experiences would lead to the beautiful deciduous forests of Missouri, where my experiences with raptors would mold my true appreciation for them.

When I first came to Missouri and visited the World Bird Sanctuary, I immediately knew that I had to be a part of this wonderful association; and that is how my path took a surprising turn.  I moved from Laramie, Wyoming (where I was attending college for Animal science) to Missouri so that I could have the opportunity of a lifetime--to be an intern at the sanctuary. 

It just so happens that when Wildlife Experiences was finding homes for the birds that they could no longer house, Jersey and Goober (formerly known as Steinbeck and Grax) were placed at WBS.  My former acquaintances and I were reunited and are still hanging out to this day, because after my first internship (which generally last about 3 months at WBS) ended in November I knew that I was not done gaining knowledge from the staff (including the birds of course--they are staff, too) and all the amazing experiences here.
My old buddy, Goober the Black Vulture
Once I discovered that I would be welcome to complete another internship with WBS, I rushed off in search of a source of income, since Ramen noodles, unfortunately, does not grow on trees.  Lucky for me I was job hunting right before Thanksgiving (and “Black Friday”) and the sanctuary offers free housing to interns and staff members.  I was able to obtain a part time job, still have time for a part time internship, and happily continue to feed my newly found raptor addiction.

Since of course all good things must come to an end, my 2nd internship was unfortunately going to be over mid February.  I was not sure what my next plan of action should be and was still not ready to leave the sanctuary, which was starting to feel like a sanctuary for me as well as for the birds.

At that point I discovered that there were going to be job openings for the educational summer shows that WBS presents in the cities of Milwaukee, WI and Boston, MA.  Fortunately there were some open positions and, amazingly enough, I was offered a position for the Masters of Flight Birds of Prey show that WBS presented at Stone Zoo in Boston.  Also chosen for the Stone Zoo show was none other than my old buddy Goober the Black Vulture himself!

Goober and I were able to travel from the Midwest, all the way to the East Coast and back; and after a demanding but also astounding summer in Boston, I was able to come back to St Louis and be a part of the World Bird Sanctuary again! I will forever thank my lucky stars that led me to this place, where I have not only learned remarkable things about birds, but learned a lot about myself as well.

Submitted by Teresa Aldrich, World Bird Sanctuary ETC Naturalist/Trainer

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