There are countless “little” moments that happen that touch the heart and rarely get remembered, let alone recorded. Then there are the moments that keep people laughing for years to come. All of these little things are about the people as much as they are about the animals. I have been educating people about animals and conservation for just as long as I have been caring for the animals. I have always loved the expressions on children’s faces when they see and especially touch an animal for the first time. But when I hear that I have really made an impact on a child; that touches the heart. Years ago I was working in Florida and I was leading a group around an island and one parent came up to me. She told me that she remembered me from the year before when she was there with her children. Her young son was later out on a boat and stopped the men fishing from throwing the discarded fishing line overboard. The mother said he specifically remembered my talking about the permanent damage it caused the pelicans and told these men all about it. I still get tears in my eyes thinking about it to know the difference I made that day.
There are always the people that make off the wall comments or questions that come from left field. At one of our table set ups we had some earrings for sale to raise some money to support the animals. These earrings were made of feathers that were shed by our birds. One day a woman had come up and had been talking to us for a while, she came across as a bit of know-it-all, but half way through the conversation she looks at the earrings and asks what we thought about people using feathers for jewelry, etc. Glenda was with me and we looked at each other and then at her a bit puzzled and she went on to mention that “people were getting birds just for their feathers”. I explained to her that the birds just shed them naturally and that we pick ours up, clean them off and then our volunteers make things out of them. The woman looked at me as if she didn’t believe me and was slightly horrified like we would pluck our birds for their feathers. I don’t think I ever convinced her that it was a natural occurance. You can’t win them all.
I have worked with thousands of individual animals but there are always a few that really touch your heart. Some of the best moments are with the birds. When you work with animals that talk it opens up a whole different world that just adds a lot of comic relief to your life. Especially when they catch you saying something you don’t want them to hear. We had a very intelligent African Gray that seemed to have great timing with everything he said. One day Nigel was coming into the house from the bird area (aka our garage) and he tripped up the stairs. Nigel ‘claims’ he tripped over shoes I left there, but I don’t know about that. ;-) As he was catching himself while going into the house he yelled (picture it with an English accent) “for f*^k’s sake”. Not 15 minutes later I was in the kitchen and Nigel was on the front porch and we both hear very loudly from Garrett “for f*^k’s sake”. We’ve had a great laugh over that for years now. Fortunately, Garrett decided not to repeat it more than a couple times. These are just a couple moments out of thousands that I have experienced they make you laugh and touch your heart.