Saturday, July 14, 2012

Week Numero Uno

Hello again!

Sorry this post is a little late. It's hard to get Internet here, but this is for the week from 7/2 to 7/6:

It's been a crazy first week of classes. After settling in, we met our professor Dr. Isabelle. Her job is pretty sweet - she runs a wildlife clinic (not open to the public yet) and has some of the most unique patients I've ever seen! Just on the first day, we had the chance to take care of a barn owl. Here's a picture of me palpating its chest for thick muscle, and another of me giving an injection of Vitamin B12:

Unfortunately the poor thing had a broken wing, and won't be recovering as quickly as we hoped....

The next day (Tuesday) we went to an iguana reserve in the San Ignacio Hotel. Named the Green Iguana Project, the main goal is to raise these iguanas in captivity and eventually release them to the wild. Green Iguanas are unfortunately threatened, especially because every Spring people love to eat the pregnant females and their eggs... It's a delicacy here. While the main idea is to focus on reintroduction, another important role the hotel plays is to educate people not to act so carelessly and help protect these animals from endangerment.

How many iguanas do you think I could fit on my hat??

On Wednesday, we had the amazing opportunity to visit a Howler Monkey preserve. I can't begin to tell you how cool it was to walk around knowing that these "baboons" (as the locals call them) were all around us.

The Community Baboon Sanctuary is actually a completely voluntary, joint project involving all of the residents living in the area. These people only needed to agree to a couple of vital components to keep the project alive: 
          o Keep a few fig trees around that the howler monkeys enjoy eating from.
          o Stay away from cultivating right next to the streams and rivers (to prevent erosion
             not only for the monkeys but for the people as well).
          o Leave a patch of trees along the property borders to maintain a "skeleton forest"
             for the monkeys to travel through.
In return, residents can benefit from the attracted tourism and are invited to participate directly in the conservation project themselves. Working together, people and animals have developed something amazing that can be used to help conservation projects worldwide!

Just a Howler Monkey chilling in a tree.

We spent the day back in Dr. Isabelle's clinic on Thursday. After having a quick demonstration on how to restrain and treat a patient, we had the opportunity to practice this ourselves. With blow dart in hand, we were able to go outside and try shooting it at a cardboard target. It was a lot of fun, but I think I need to work on my aim a little bit more before I attempt that on a real animal....

The other thing we did on Thursday was practice our suture technique. This was the first time I ever got the chance to work with any sort of medical needle, so I was really excited!! After "wounding" our raw chicken meat, we used the sutures to stich it right back up. I took a video of me working on my "patient," as well as a photo of the finished project. Enjoy:

(Sorry I can't seem to flip the video around...)

Finally Friday came, and that day went by pretty quickly. After collecting a few samples from the dog parks nearby, we ran some fecal analyses to see if the dogs had any sort of parasites. Not surprisingly, we came across quite a large number of hookworm eggs and a few others, of which I don't remember the names. As a parasitologist, Dr. Isabelle is hoping to compile all of this data to educate the public about the status of dogs roaming the streets. One day it would be ideal to provide dewormer to all of these pups, but that day might be in the distant future.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of Friday's project, but I do have a picture of a sleeping dog instead:
He's only asleep I promise!

Until next time!

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