Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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Missy the Neotropical River Otter (Angie's Departure Blog)


Since I’ve been here at Wildtracks, Missy has made a lot of progress. When I first got here, she was only eating fish we killed for her. She was a bit awkward in the water. Now she’s catching her own fish (even when they’re schooling!), killing crabs, and is really beautiful to watch when she swims. Even though she is definitely a wild animal - you would definitely come into contact with her razor sharp teeth if she didn’t know you and you tried to touch her - she’s one of the cutest, most lovable animals at Wildtracks… though I’m sure you could say the same for almost any of the animals.

But. Yes, there’s a but. She is also one of the most annoying, as I’m sure ANY of the volunteers would agree. Missy is a bit of an escape artist. Her record for escaping her pen is around 6 times in one day. Most days she’s content to stay in her pen, but if she thinks she hasn’t gotten to eat enough, or if there catches sight of me and she wants to play, she’ll dig her way out. We tried to prevent her from doing this by moving rocks over the holes, but then she figured out how to move the rocks. She’s just a tiny thing, but she can move a boulder twice her size, if she wants to.

The past few days have been a bit tough on a few of the volunteers. Missy can be extremely loud when she wants to be, especially if she can see me, but can’t get to me. A big shout out to Emma, Si, Jaime, and Simon for putting up with her antics! We spent the past two days laying chicken wire on the inside of her cage as a more permanent measure, meant to keep her from digging holes. I spent most of the day playing babysitter, and keeping Missy occupied while the others worked. Last night, we put her back into her pen, thinking, “Yes! Finally, she won’t get out anymore!”

I think you can guess what happened next. That smart little otter got out. Again. She managed to find the one flaw in the chicken wire, and exploited it. Emma managed to fix it in about 5 minutes, so no harm was done. Hopefully, she’ll stay put in her pen from now on.

Sadly, I won’t be around to find out if her pen is permanently secure. Or to see her return to the wild. I left for San Pedro this morning, and will be going home, back to the United States, on Monday. The last two months have been among the best of my life. Wildtracks is an incredible program, which I believe is unbeatable. Nowhere else can you work so closely with manatees, monkeys, and an otter, all at once. But not only are the animals incredible, so are the people. I have made some wonderful friends while working at Wildtracks. You guys have made my time in Sarteneja that much better. I’m going to miss everyone so much!

If you’re reading this because you’re considering being a volunteer, do it. It is absolutely worth it. If you don’t have time to come volunteer, please donate! Every little bit helps buy milk, fruit, and fish for Missy.
Thank you especially to Paul and Zoe for making this all possible. You are doing wonderful things in Belize with these animals. Thanks so much for this opportunity!

Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-03-08 11:55:52   [Link to this article]

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