Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Wildlife Adventure - Part Two

The drive to San Rafael was gorgeous. Rush hour traffic had died down and the fog, coming in thick and fast in my neck of the woods, evaporated as I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge. I played nouveau flamenco on the CD player as I drove. I heard fluttering noises from the cat carrier and thought that the bird approved of my choice of music. We drove past Sausalito and the houseboats, through San Anselmo, and into San Rafael, a cute little community with lots of trees, funky shops and restaurants on its main drag.

I found Wild Care easily - it was only a few blocks off of the freeway, yet set back far enough to avoid the noise and traffic. Parking was along the length of an athletic field of some sort; a Little League game was in full swing when I pulled in. Across the way was a little footbridge and a wooden gate. Signs clearly marked it as Wild Care. I carefully lifted the cat carrier and took my bird across the footbridge. Pushing open the gate, I found myself in a little courtyard. There was a pond populated by pelicans, a half dozen or so enclosures which housed various species of birds, including a truly gorgeous golden hawk. Sitting on the edge of the fence which surrounded the pond was a large bird with a coronet on its head, watching all comings and goings carefully. It reminded me of a grumpy old sentry and I later found out that the Wild Care staff called it The Freeloader; it was a local bird that knew a good thing when it flew into it - free lunch for the rest of its life.

I took my bird up a ramp through a glass sliding door and found a tall blonde woman in blue scrubs. I announced myself as the woman from San Francisco with the injured gull. She was the one I'd talked to on the phone, friendly, helpful and appreciative that I'd made the drive. They took the bird straight into the clinic, I filled out paperwork and made a $10 donation towards my bird's rehabilitation.

They told me that I'd rescued a murre, not a gull, a bird that only came to shore to lay its eggs. Wild Care had been seeing a lot of murres in their clinic because of the warm currents in the ocean causing the fish -- the murre's main source of food -- to swim deeper than the murres could dive. A lot of them were starving to death and my murre was no exception. It was less than half of its usual body weight and suffering from the cold and damp as well.

In their own words, Wildcare is "a unique organization located in Marin County, California, that provides care for ill, orphaned or injured wild animals, and nature/environmental education for children and adults. With a small corps of paid staff and over 300 volunteers we save more than 4,000 animals each year and inspire thousands of children." I took some brochures to give to Gayle, thinking she might be interested in volunteering. I left, feeling good about leaving my murre here.

They'd given me a patient ID number so I could call and check up on its progress. I called the next morning, anxious to hear how it was doing, and found out that they'd transferred my murre to another facility that specialized in water fowl. When I called the other facility (I don't remember the name), I found out that my murre had died in the night. It was too far gone to respond to any treatment. The woman that told me tried to reassure me that at least it had died warm and comfortable in an incubator. I thanked her, barely able to get the words out before starting to cry.


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