Sunday, January 11, 2015

THE Bite, The Final Chapter

It’s with great sadness that I start adding to the blog again. I was recently inspired to write and had a whole different story started. That will have to come later. 

It’s any zookeeper’s (or barn or stable hand’s) worst nightmare.  An electrical fire started in a light fixture and spread through the ceiling of the primate barn at a nearby zoo.  Twenty-eight animals died of smoke inhalation.  The whole thing strikes so many different nerves in me.  As a zookeeper I feel the pain, as someone that worked in that very barn with some of those same animals (even if it was 20+ years ago) I feel a lot of the pain and also as someone with an organization with a separate building full of animals I feel the pain.  But there is one particular animal that has caused the greatest upset for me.

I was at work when one of my coworkers asked if I heard about the fire. I immediately went to get my phone to find about 6 messages. I opened the article and somewhere in the very first paragraph it stated that among the animals deceased were the chimps. I cried out “Oh, god, Rosie!”  I started shaking and crying so badly that I couldn’t see the rest to read it.  Her name was not listed specifically but I knew instantly. I immediately felt like part of me had just died.  It’s a very weird feeling that I could not begin to explain to anyone. Perhaps it’s as basic as the fact that she really did have part of me in her, after all she did swallow the finger. 

There was also an unspoken bond between Rosie and me. Nothing like the flirting she did with the guys.  She would watch me. I often would wonder what she was thinking when she did.  Nigel and I were there to help a bird last year and walked around some.  Nigel pointed out that a chimp had been watching me very intently for some time. I turned and of course it was her with her eyes locked on my every move. It was a very cool and creepy experience at the same time but that’s how she was with me.  Not only would I never forget but apparently she hadn't either. 

I have had to force myself to stay off Facebook.  Many comments are so hateful and that adds to my emotional overload.  I know that this particular zoo is not perfect (but nothing is) and some decisions had been made in the past that I would not do, but one thing I can tell you is that there are a lot of good people there working hard and doing the best they can with the limited resources they have.  No one deserves something like this and I would gladly do anything I can to help.  What’s best for the animals is and has always been my motivation. Why sit behind your computers and complain? People should get off their arses and do something to make things better.

They had a memorial this afternoon.  The names of each of the animals were called out as flowers were placed along the grave.  I caught myself off guard; when Rosie’s name was called out I started crying all over again.  I loved to hate that girl and hated to love her.  RIP Rosie and all of your friends.