Thursday, October 18, 2007

Strange but True

Well a doctor in town has a new story to tell today thanks to me. Last weekend I was volunteering at the nature center as a handler for a photo-shoot. It’s a fundraiser for our animal rehab work. We tether a bunch of the birds to perches and photographers pay big bucks to come take their pictures. Each bird has its own personal bodyguard/servant the entire time. This day I was in charge of Igor, the turkey vulture. He likes to pick apart his jesses (tethers) and so every so often I’d have to step in and put my (gloved) hand between his beak and his feet to make him stop.

When I was trying to remove his jesses, back in his enclosure at the end of the day, I didn’t bother with gloves, since there were no visitors to see. Four years of working with this bird and never even a red mark on my skin. But this time he nipped.

Their beaks aren’t very strong, but he managed to pinch a flap of skin on the back of my hand and wouldn’t let go. Then he twisted, and managed to tear off a small bit of skin—about the size of a small sunflower seed. No big deal right? I’ve been bitten by far bigger beaks and teeth in my years of working with animals.

But of course this one decided to resist the peroxide, alcohol, tea tree oil, and Neosporin that make up my home arsenal against infection. So today I had to go into the walk-in clinic to get antibiotics for an infected vulture bite. She was most amused. Gave me the prescription. Said it will also clear up the sinus infection I hadn’t even told her about. Gave me a tetanus shot too, just for fun.

So as I was leaving, what did she say? “Oh I’ve gotta write this down…won’t ever have this one again…vulture bite…”

Happy Halloween, huh?


Amarinda Jones said...

Holy crap! That was bizarre.

Clover said...

Too, too funny.

Terry said...

Well, you could have waited until Halloween for a vulture bite.

I know what you mean about zoo critters -- I got nailed by a 7 foot Burmese python once. Not a lot of fun, but that's mostly because you have to wait until their teeny-tiny brains make the connection that you're too big to eat and they let go. Zoo director insisted on driving me to the ER -- came in and told staff it was an emergency snake-bite. Of course, pythons aren't poisonous, but I got moved to the front of the line. The prairie dog was worse.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Agreed Terry. I'd have to say my worst was either opossum or woodchuck. Neither of which people think of as particularly nasty. Though the great horned owl has sure tried. THAT one I'm carefyl about wearing the gloves with.

Terry said...

Possums -- oh, don't remind me. I had to hand raise 4 of them from the tube-feeding stage. Abercrombie, Bertha, Charlotte & Desdemona.
I had them at home for night feedings. I thought I was done with that once my kids were older.

Mona Risk said...

You are one brave woman. I wouldn't go close to a big bird. Ever since I saw an old Hitchcok thriller movie called The Birds I'm terrified of big birds.