Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

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Introducing the 'Odds and Sods' (Angela and Missy the otter cub)

Whilst Wildtracks focuses primarily on the West Indian manatee and spider and howler monkeys, it also currently provides rehabilitation facilities for several other species until specific facilities have been established elsewhere in Belize. One of these species is the Neotropic river otter. This next blog, from Angela, follows Missy the otter cub....

Hey everybody! My name is Angela. I’m from a very small rural town in Illinois, not too far from Chicago. My story of how I found myself here at Wildtracks is pretty simple. I graduated last May from the University of Illinois with a degree in integrative biology and a desire to work in a zoo or aquarium and I needed work experience. On a whim, I decided to look at different opportunities abroad for internships. I found Wildtracks fairly quickly and was immediately interested in their manatee rehabilitation program. I was especially excited about coming here, not only because helping with manatee releases is a rare opportunity, but also because it turns out that coming here for a few months would actually be cheaper than finding an apartment while working an unpaid internship nearly anywhere in the states. Definitely a win-win!

Once I got here I found myself working with the manatees, but I also fell into a new job which I absolutely adore. I have become the primary carer of a nearly 6 month old Central American river otter. Missy came to us last September, at only one month old after being surrendered to the Forestry Department of Belize. There are no designated otter rehabilitation facilities in Belize, so she was brought to Wildtracks, where she is doing really well!

We feed Missy a diet of primarily cichlid fish, but she occasionally gets crayfish, swimming crabs, and catfish. She also gets a small amount of milk every evening. She fishes out of a small concrete pool (actually a pool for manatee calves). Her enclosure has it’s own pond, where she can swim as much as she likes.

It will be my pleasure to share with you some of Missy’s accomplishments in the coming weeks. So far, I’ve been working to teach her how to catch fish. When I arrived, she was just learning to chase fish around her pool with Nicki, the previous otter girl. On my fourth day during the hand-over with Nicki, Missy caught her first fish all by herself. She’s improved immensely in the month since. She now catches all of her own fish and has even learned how to kill crabs! Just this past Thursday, I gave her a live crab for the first time. She knew exactly what to do and quickly devoured it. I was so proud! Hopefully, she’ll be catching fish out of the pond in her enclosure next.

There are so many amazing animals here at Wildtracks and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them. I hope you enjoy this small window into the life of a volunteer here in Belize!



Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-02-17 19:22:23   [Link to this article]

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