Friday, October 31, 2008

Where's Wendell?

If you think you see a wallaby on the loose in the Ottawa Valley and can't believe your eyes, be assured that it's not just a kid in a very realistic Hallowe'en suit. It seems we have a young wallaby running (relatively) wild.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

OTTAWA-A panicked wallaby is on the loose in the Ottawa Valley after Tuesday night's windy storm blew over a tree that broke open the kangaroo and wallaby pen at Saunders Country Critters and Garden Centre in Kemptville.

Five kangaroos and wallabies were originally on the run in North Grenville after the tree took down a six-metre panel in the animals' pen. But only Wendell, a three-year-old Bennett's Red Necked Wallaby, remains on the loose, and was last spotted in Athens, Ont. - more than 80 kilometres southwest of Kemptville -by an elderly woman Thursday morning. And as of last night, there had been three more sightings in the area.

"They saw the opening, hopped out and just kept hopping," said Saunders Country Critters co-owner Carla Saunders, who sounded a little panicked and distraught herself early Thursday morning.

"I feel terrible," she said. "We just want Wendell home."

By Thursday afternoon, when Mrs. Saunders had heard of the first sighting in Athens, she was more hopeful for the animal's safe return.

"It's definitely Wendell," she said, adding that her husband and Country Critters co-owner, Gary Saunders, headed to Athens as soon as he heard and he saw Wendell's tracks for himself.

"The last tracks my husband saw were a four-footed hop, which means he's tired," she added.

The animals were reported missing to the Grenville OPP Wednesday afternoon, but three of them didn't venture too far from home and were easily recovered. Rudy, the kangaroo, was spotted later in the day by neighbours about 15 kilometres from the farm on County Road #44 and quickly brought back home.

As for Wendell, Mrs. Saunders is worried about how long he can last in the cold weather.

"He's a little chunky monkey, so he's got some extra meat and potatoes on him. But that's not going to last him for too long," she said.

Friends and staff of the Saunders have been combing the bush day and night with the hope of uncovering their precious little critter. In addition to the foot patrols, they have also been hanging towels - soaked with the urine of the other kangaroos and wallabies - in the trees around the farm, hoping the familiar scent will draw Wendell home.

Mrs. Saunders said the animal has a terrible sense of direction, so they're trying to attract him by other means, but all attempts have been unsuccessful.

Mrs. Saunders said Wendell only stands about 75 centimetres tall - she described the Bennett's wallaby breed as "kangaroo wannabes" - and would not be dangerous if approached.

If someone spots Wendell, Mrs. Saunders said they should throw a blanket on top of him, grab him by the tail and drop him into a pillowcase, which would simulate the comfort and protection of a mother wallaby's pouch. She also urges that if anyone spots him to call the farm at 613-258-1108.

Another search group will head out to Athens at 6:30 a.m. Friday.

Wendell was born and raised at the farm, so the Saunders' family feels a particular attachment to him, she said.

"They're like members of your family," she said. "He would always greet me with a big hug in the morning."

Mrs. Saunders has been running the farm, exotic zoo and garden centre with her husband since 1992. She said they have never had an animal leave the property.

"I'm hoping that once he hears our voices, he'll settle down and we'll be able to get him."

Edit: Unfortunately, if you have not heard, Wendell was found dead shortly after I posted that story. Mrs Saunders received a mnumber of calls to the effect that Wendell has been seen somewhere or other, but none led to finding him. She does not believe that any of the calls were intended pranks simply people trying to help but providing incorrect information.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Story of Lefty

This is a story that caught my eye earlier today in the Ottawa Citizen. Many of the newsletters I subscribe to, of course, tell tales of abused animals so it's good to be reminded that many people (a majority, I like to think) do feel compassion for animals in distress.

Lefty the Canada Goose at Paul Lindsay Park in Ottawa, October 27, 2008.
Photograph by : Photo by Jean Levac, Ottawa Citizen

Graham Hughes, Ottawa Citizen
Published: Monday, October 27, 2008

OTTAWA - A flood of e-mails and phone calls has prompted Carleton-Mississippi Mills MPP Norm Sterling to try to come to the rescue of Lefty, a young goose that was born with one wing.

The youngster, abandoned by its migrating flock, has been seen swimming around the pond behind Amberwood Golf and Country Club in Stittsville, raising fears among area residents that it will freeze or starve to death. They want it caught and taken to the Wild Bird Care Centre.

Mr. Sterling said Lefty's situation has sparked a lot of feedback to his office. On Friday, staff received 40 to 50 calls and "a bunch of e-mails."

"This morning, we got another 20," he said. "It probably would rank in the top three I would receive in a year...We haven't received near that many calls with regard to the most recent (property assessments), where their properties have been valued at an average of 20 per cent more."

It's the second deformed goose to show up at the club in as many years. Last year, in mid-November, the course's superintendent captured a young wingless goose and turned it over to the centre. There, it was deemed sterile and forever flightless.

On Monday, Mr. Sterling made a private member's statement in the legislature describing the goose's plight and explained he is working with the Canadian Wildlife Service to try to help the bird.

"Since migratory birds are the responsibility of the federal government, I have been in contact with the Canadian Wildlife Service, an agency of Environment Canada, and asked that they do something to help Lefty," he said.

"While I appreciate hearing from my constituents regarding Lefty's fate, I suggest concerned citizens also contact Canadian Wildlife Service directly at 1-800-668-6767."

While he was unsure what could be done to help the bird, Mr. Sterling said: "If we could keep the bird somewhere safe over winter and then put it back on the pond for the kids, that would be wonderful."

He conceded there was a bit of irony in a Conservative MPP helping a bird called Lefty.

"I don't very often go to bat for a lefty, but in this case, there were special circumstances. The NDP guys got quite a kick out of it, actually."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Go Green Tube

Are you like me? Are you totally fascinated by Stephane Dion's peculiar accent when he speaks English (or a somewhat reasonably facsimile)?

A strange mix of the lawyer in "The Usual Suspects" and the voodoo chick in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series of movies, it has the effect of an auditory train wreck on me; I simply can not pull myself from listening to it.

Well, thanks to Go Green Tube, I can listen to it to my heart's content (which means, basically, until the end of eternity or until Steph or I die, whichever comes first). And I'll save the planet while doing so, and hopefully get some more green tips.

What is Go Green Tube?! Well I'm glad you asked! It's like youtube Here's what they say:

We believe good actions deserve to be acknowledged and rewarded, so for every video you as a member watch, we will offset a pound of carbon. The more you watch, and the more friends you bring here, the more difference you make!

Well, all right. In addition to Dion's siren-like voice (and I mean more the ambulance or fire truck type of siren than the half-fish, long-haired, topless chicks kind), I'm going to poke around for some more personal tips that I can apply from THIT World Headquarters. Sign up and take a look around, maybe you'll find something you like.

Happy viewing!