December 22nd, 2006



I took a butcher bird to the zoovets for an examination to confirm the worst: a broken wing. It must have been painful because the bird wriggled with discomfort during the examination even though he'd been knocked out with anaesthetic. Metacarpals AND phalanges were broken, according to Ben. The poor little fellow was no going to be releasable, so Ben euthanased him.

I mentioned Fips and we got talking about echidnas. Ben suggested I bring Fips in for an examination and maybe even to determine the sex. So, early in the new year Fips gets to see the doctor. My greatest fear with animals is that I'm not looking after them properly. Is Fips getting enough calcium? Is he malnourished? Will someone I greatly respect shake his head at me and tell me I'm doing it wrong? We discussed the food and I discovered Biolact, the people who make Fips' milk, has made up a special formula for the zoo's baby rhino. So now I know who to see about milk the next time I rescue a baby rhino.

While Ben and I talked there were noises coming from the recovery room: a crash, Jo saying "NO! Stop that!" another crash, then the sound of someone running and a soft "tick tick tick" noise. Something heavy thudded into the door and it sprang open.

Standing not more than 8" high and blinking at the bright examination room, was a baby wombat. "Matilda!" called Jo, and the little animal turned and trotted back, her claws making a soft "tick tick tick" noise on the lino. Matilda almost reached Jo, then she turned and ran into the examination room. "Ran" is't the right word to describe a baby wombat at full-tilt. The right word would be something that means to bound and bounce and to move with a rocking-horse motion.

Matilda galumphed* into the room, her claws going "tickitytickitytickitytickitytickitytickity." She skidded to a halt at my feet, and in one quick move she sniffed my jeans and bit a lump out of the hem. Then she checked out my rescue box and bit a lump out of the bird perching stick, then wandered over to Ben and sat on his feet.

"Those are her favouritest boots in the world," said Jo.

Matilda stretched her front paws up to Ben's legs, then dragged her claws down his shin, causing ten parallel red welts to rise on his skin. "Yes, they are," said Ben through clenched teeth as Matilda bit a lump out of her favouritest boots in the world.

Jo picked up the little wombat and Matilda lay back in her arms, radiating equal measures of cute and innocence. They will raise her for release back into the wild.

I'd better take my camera out there when Fips goes for his checkup.

*This sounds right, but has the wrong meaning.