Thursday, June 23, 2011

Endangered? Phbbbt.

Okay, so yes, they really are endangered, but wow it seems like I have seen a lot of sawfish lately!  Of course, going on an insane number of sampling trips has probably increased my chances.  I dubbed myself the "sawfish ninja" after catching sawfish on several consecutive trips!  Heck, I caught 6 on one trip the other week - that made for nearly a 14 hour workday. 

Sawfish are, quite simply, amazing creatures.  I am glad that they are listed as a federally endangered species.  Back in the day, those long "hedgetrimmer"-like rostrums easily entangled in fisherman's nets, and they were considered somewhat of a pest, since they wrecked the nets.  Therefore, they were killed in large numbers.  We know so little about them, so it's an amazing experience to be part of a team that conducts important research on sawfish.  Hopefully, we will come to learn more and more about their life history so we can learn how to better help them recover their numbers.  These fish used to be a common sight up and down the eastern seaboard, but their historical range has all but disappeared.  I happen to live and work in one of the few places they still occupy.

Yesterday, we caught a little young-of-the-year sawfish.  He was very cute, and quite frisky!  Contrary to popular belief, however, they will not hack you in pieces with that saw.  I'm always quite astonished at how docile they are while we poke and prod them.  They will surprise you every now again though - and they are strong. 

Some think they are ugly.  I think they are beautiful.  I wish everyone could have a chance to look at one eye-to-eye.  At work, we were discussing how amazing their eyes are.  They are expressive somehow!  I just love them.

I do sometimes complain about going to work (hey, it is my job), but when I look a sawfish in the eye, I am reminded how lucky I am to be a part of this project.

Here I am feeling the sawfish love...

And here is a photo of me with one of my other loves...a baby bull shark.  This guy still had a fresh umbilical scar!  I got my "hero shot" with him, then released him so he could go eat other fish and grow up to make more baby bull sharks.

Response to "Why Rabbits?"

Wow, I just wanted to post a short note to say how amazed I am by the response to my post, and a THANK YOU to everyone who read it.  I've received a literal avalanche of wonderful, sweet notes from fellow bunny people who were touched by my words.  I've even made some awesome new friends on Facebook!  I'm sorry that I haven't been able to respond to all of you individually.  It's amazingly humbling to have had that effect!  It also serves to remind me that there are a lot of other "bunny people" out there who feel the same way I do.  I just hope that this continues to spread and reaches people who haven't yet experienced the joy of being owned by a bunny!

One more thing - thank you to ALL rabbit rescue people out there - rescue directors, volunteers, foster homes, financial support.  Together we can make a difference in the lives of our beloved rabbits.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Rabbits?

Why rabbits?

You know, it seems like I’ve been asked this question a lot lately.  Why did I choose pet rabbits?  Why do I choose to help rescue rabbits?  They’re a lot of work.  They take up a lot of my time.  People see them as “children’s pets”.  You can get one for $15.  Why not just get a dog or a cat?  Yes, I’ve heard it all.  If you’ve never had a pet rabbit (really had a pet rabbit – not one confined to an outdoor hutch), the answer is difficult to put into words.  

I don’t know what it was at the moment I laid eyes on the bunny that was to become Zoie, my first rabbit.  I was in a pet store, and there were all these cute baby bunnies running around.  My eyes just locked in on him.  I knew that he was mine.  I don’t know why.  There was just something about him.  Some little girl asked the pet store worker if she could hold him, and I watched in agony.  I was terrified that the little girl would take him home.  He was MY rabbit!!  Well, obviously the little girl didn’t take him.  Yes, my first bunny was an impulse pet store purchase, which makes me cringe now, but Zoie is the one that started it all.

I muddled through learning proper rabbit care via the internet and a rabbit-savvy vet.  I learned that Zoie’s cage was too small.  I learned he needed to be neutered.  I got a crash course in nursing a sick bunny.  My poor Zoie was very acquainted with the vet.  Despite everything he went through, his sweet, trusting spirit remained.  He fought so hard through so many illnesses, and when he finally couldn’t fight any more, I was devastated.

All of my bunnies since Zoie have been rescues.  Chloe languished in an outdoor hutch for two years in the hot Florida sun.  Milhouse was dumped in a park, where he was attacked by predators, and miraculously survived.  Kahlua was my lucky bun.  He was born at the rescue.  It is mind-boggling to me that someone, at some point, didn’t want them.  If you’ve never had a house rabbit, you don’t know the joy of seeing a former hutch bunny do a binky for the first time.  You’ve never experienced the happy leap of your heart when a timid bunny nose bonks you for pets for the first time.  You’ve never seen a neglected bunny toss a toy for the first time, or a malnourished bunny eat hay for the first time.  I can’t describe what it’s like.  It’s one of the most satisfying feelings on the face of the earth.  If you’ve never had house rabbits, you don’t know how funny they are – believe me, rabbits have a sense of humor!  They continually make me laugh.  You’ve never seen the intelligence in their eyes.  Rabbits are smart – some more than others, but they’ve all got it.  You’ve never had a bunny comfort you when you’re down.  I’ve had days when I just sit tearfully in the middle of the floor, and my bunnies always come running over, as if to ask, “What’s wrong?”  They proceed to nose bonk me until I crack a smile.  This is why I have rabbits as pets.

Why do I concern myself with rescuing rabbits?  There are so few people in this world who even care what becomes of rabbits.  To most, they are disposable children’s pets.  Dogs and cats have a huge following, which is wonderful, but bunnies need a voice too.  Have you ever seen a bunny with nails so long they have completely curled around?  Teeth so neglected they have turned into tusks?  Bunnies so emaciated that it’s amazing they’re still breathing?  Have you seen botflies, ear mite infestations so bad the ears fell down, broken bones, fly strike, or rabbits so riddled with reproductive cancer they must be put down?  To me, it’s astonishing that these bunnies keep fighting.  Even at death’s door, they will still have that spark in their eyes – that will that says, “I want to live.  I want to be loved.  I deserve to be wanted.  Help me.”  That is why I fight for them.

I have to listen to people’s cruel comments – from the intentionally awful comments to the completely ignorant ones.  “I love rabbits – they taste like chicken!”  “I used to have a bunny.  It got out one day and the dog ripped it apart.”  “Whatever happened to that bunny we used to have?”  I cringe when I hear these – and believe me, rabbit rescuers hear them on almost a daily basis.  It is shocking to me how little people care.  Rabbits are treated in ways that would absolutely outrage people were they dogs or cats.  Rabbits are still classified as poultry, which means they are exempt from even being humanely slaughtered.  So yes, I will keep loving and keep fighting for these amazing, intelligent, hilarious, strong creatures.

Why rabbits?

Why not rabbits?

 In memory of Zoie...the one who started it all (2002-2008)