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Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

Wildtracks blog


Volunteering with my sister....Lindsay

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Hi, my name is Lindsay. I am 25 years old, from Pittsburgh, PA, and am currently unemployed. I have had an obsession with manatees since I was 5, when my aunt and uncle adopted one in my name for my birthday. Since I had the free time and the passion for animals, when the opportunity to volunteer at Wildtracks arose it couldn't have seemed more perfect! I have always wanted to get into working with animals and Wildtracks has provided me with some amazing experience.

When my mom found the Wildtracks website she immediately thought of me. It sounded amazing but I had serious anxiety about going alone. So when my sister offered to come along the plans all fell into place! My sister, Nikki, is 23 years old and recently graduated from college with an outdoor adventure degree. When we first decided to volunteer at Wildtracks together, our mom told us that spending that much time together would either make our bond stronger or force us to take some time off from each other. Luckily it worked out positively.

While at Wildtracks, I was lucky to work with Nikki, the Capuchin monkey. It was a little ironic since that's my sisters name too. They were actually quite similar. Both very stubborn and sweet, but only when they wanted to be. And they both made my time there the best I could imagine. After Nikki and I were first introduced, we became best friends, and would spend time grooming each other. I never realized how smart monkeys were until watching her up close every day. One day, she must have wanted me to stay longer because she took the key out of my pocket, and hooked it on the enclosure, up top, where I couldn't reach. So we just hung out until she decided I could leave and she gave me the key back. Whenever I had a free moment I would spend extra time with Nikki. As a sanctuary animal, spending time with her is actually encouraged. It provides her with extra social enrichment as she's not being released. Some of my favourite time at Wildtracks was my ‘alone time’ with Nikki, just enjoying each other and her little squeaks.

Next to Nikki's enclosure was Pachuco’s enclosure,. Pachuco, a Yucatan Black Howler monkey is a recent arrival, still recovering, and yet to be integrated with any other primates and therefore also requires more attention than those in troops. My sister Nikki got to work with him. As someone who has also always loved animals, working with Pachuco was a great experience for her. He was always waiting for her when she came around the corner and he always made her smile. He loved being groomed and he was obsessed with his milk!

Nikki also worked with the spider monkeys. She called all 14 of them by name and knew each one's individuality. One day the spiders were spooked by a coati near their enclosure. They were very stressed and calling out with alarm calls. When she went to feed them she was able to calm them down. She says it was first time she really felt like she had built a bond with them and that they were glad to see her, not just because she had food! It was amazing to see the way that we have both built special relationships with the monkeys we worked with. Some of our favourite pictures are the candid shots we caught of each other. Since we could see each other from Nikki and Pachuco's enclosures, we had a front row seat to it all.

As well as working with the primates, we each also had regular exercise swims with the manatees and extra duties with some of the other animals at Wildtracks, like the peccaries and the currassow.

I don't think I could have done this trip without my sister. Having someone there who knew me and vice versa made the time even more valuable. No matter what we do in life. If we move to different continents or live next door to each other, we will always have Wildtracks! Our bond is stronger than ever. Having that personal support system on this adventure allowed us both to be confident and comfortable in a new and strange place without feeling alone. Despite being exhausted, sweaty, and covered in bug bites every day, we would go back in a heartbeat! I am excited to say we are already planning our next adventure and hope that someday we can return to our Wildtracks family!!

Thank you to Paul, Zoe, Alysha, and everyone else at Wildtracks for an amazing month!!

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Published by: Zoe Walker at 2014-11-14 08:07:31   [Link to this article]


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