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Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Zoo Unlike Any Other

When I was a teenager, I worked for years at a local pet store.  It was a relatively well known chain, but nothing like the Petco's and Petsmarts of today.  I loved it!  It was the best job I have ever had.  It had its ups and downs, like all jobs, but I learned new things daily, educated people about the pet they were considering BEFORE they bought it, worked with a great staff, and spent time caring for animals of all different makes and models. 

The most stressful parts of the day consisted of receiving a phone call from a customer, "I think my hamster has a tumor!" only to explain to them that the hamster was a "boy" and he would be just fine, or having concerned kids run up to the counter and exclaim, "The rabbits are wrestling! Are they going to hurt each other?"  I am going to have to be careful with this blog, as my former boss from the pet store reads it!  Let me know if I make any mistakes about these critters, Dave!

As a result of this job, I had the most amazing collection of animals!  I don't think anyone could match their uniqueness.

I had a pair of Haitian Anoles.  The world's cutest lizard!  They are way cuter than the Geico guy, although I don't recall if they had an accent.  If we did not live so far from a store that sells their food, I would have these little guys again! 

Haitian Anole Image from  LINK 

My pair of anoles were each missing one foot.  They were shipped in boxes with screen on the sides.  Their little feet would sometimes protrude from that screen as the box was slid across the floor or stacked against another, and their feet were literally shaved off.  My anoles did not seem to notice that they had a handicap.  They still climbed the wood and the plants with which I decorated their vivarium.  They still ate their food, and they were still fun to watch for me and for the cats. The general public does not want to see a footless lizard in a store, so I was able to make them my own!  Free lizards, but then I had to invest in their new housing! 

I had also adopted a small Crested Canary from the store.  She was so cute.  At least I think she was a girl.  She did not sing at all, and only male canaries sing.  They say they have a "crest" atop their little heads.  I liked to think of it as more of a toupee!  I had never really seen this type of canary prior to working in the pet store.

Crested Canary Image from LINK

She was adorable, but she also came with her own issues.  She was blind.  She had mature cataracts in both eyes.  Cataracts make the normally clear lenses in the eyes milky white so they can not see through them.  She may have been like this from birth, but I have no way of knowing.  She fluttered around in her cage just fine memorizing the location of the perches and bowls.  I had to pay particular attention while cleaning her cage, being sure to place items back where they were so she did not have to relocate them.

Milky Cataract in a Bird Image from LINK

Then came the fish tank!  I started with a ten gallon tank, and eventually progressed to a 20 gallon high.  I  loved having a fish tank, and miss having one today.  Along with this fish tank, came the rare finds that I housed from the heart.  I took in any fish that had "odd" characteristics, fish that people would likely not choose to purchase.  The fish I remember specifically are the Zebra Danios.  Zebra Danios have vivid stripes making them beautiful, but they are basically just fish-shaped fish...usually.

Zebra Danio Image from LINK

Within my tank, were housed Zebra Danios and other fish that had scoliosis of the spine.   

Scoliosis Image from LINK

These fish also thrived despite their handicap.  They swam, they ate, they held their own with the other fish in my tank.  I was happy to have them.

One day I went to work and it happened.  I discovered the strangest goldfish I had ever seen...

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Brighte said...

I love your blog! I used to work at a Petsmart and I loved it. Our fish department actually re homed ALOT of fish that had out grown their tanks. I don't know if they still do, but when I worked there my Dept. Manager was very good about letting us do this. We had several 3 foot Plecostomus that found new homes as well as a VERY large 1 foot long Oscar. I took home a Kitten, a puppy, a mouse and a hamster while working there. The kitten brought in in a box, the puppy dropped off at closing time, the hamster returned by a disgruntled parent when it was 2 years old and the mouse had been saved by a child from being eaten by her dog. We never did find out who lost that mouse, but I loved Algernon until the day he died. Thanks for sharing your stories with us! <3

Tammy Hartwig said...

Hey Lisa ~

This gave you a fantastic start for what you do today!

I believe that I may be able to compete with your zoo however. While I did not have the exotic critters you had, I was the kid that brought home everything; I was going to save them all! In reality, I saved very few but learned SO much and I can hold my head high and say, "at least I tried". My parents were wonderful and I can never thank them enough for never saying no, no matter what it was that I brought home. Of course this helped prepare me for what I do today as well.

So my 'zoo' consisted of ~ a squirrel with a broken back, a ground hog that had a big acorn stuck on his front teeth so he couldn't eat or drink, a 3' diameter snapping turtle, rabbits, a porcupine, a rabid baby raccoon (of course I did not know this until after I turned it over to a DNR wild life rehabilitator), many baby birds, an injured fawn, several red foxes, stray dogs & cats, several skunks, mice, orphaned baby raccoons and squirrels...oh, the list goes on and on.

So, How did I do? LOL!
Very nice blog; thanks for sharing.


Dave M. said...

BRAT!! You're going to make everyone wait to hear about the goldfish?! I had totally forgotten that you had the lizards. I'm trying to remember which kind of cockatoo I was hand feeding one time when i lost my grip on the syringe and it went down into the bird. It took me an hour to get it out. Still amazed that I finally got it out without killing the bird!Don't make us wait too long to hear the rest of the story.

Torun said...

I’m glad you saved all your little friends from untimely deaths at the pet store. That’s because you are a rescuer. But please don’t encourage people to keep fish. Only 1 in 10 make it to the store alive; most especially if they are salt water fish.

When people buy birds from pet stores, it encourages the bird breeders to keep breeding. Some bird breeders, usually those who also show birds, are reputable and careful. But many bird breeders are no better than puppy mill breeders, caring nothing for their breeding stock. It’s shameful L .

Adopt, don’t buy – that goes for birds as well as other companion-animals. We need to encourage people to be ‘guardians’, not ‘owners.’ And we need to discourage people from buying exotic animals. If they get lose in an area, they either die or they survive and it plays havoc with the ecosystem. Either way, it’s not good.

As you know, there are many, many rescues for all species. Not just cats and dogs. They need to find forever homes for their little residents and that’s where people need to go if they feel they have the wherewithal to take on another family member.

Dian H said...

Agh! Where is the photo of the strangest goldfish you ever had?!

Anonymous said...

I rescued a hamster from Petsmart. It was allergic to it's bedding. I treated his eyes with warm water. Gave him organic bedding, but his problems were not just that he was asthmatic. If he was held he would start having asthma type breathing problems. I had an extra albuteral inhaler, so I would give him a puff when I saw that he was in distress. He quickly recovered. The third problem is he had an inciser front top tooth that curled and imbedded in the roof of his mouth. I researched how to snip it and I had to remove the imbedded tooth from his palate. I then applied baby oragel to the sight as I knew it was painful. Not once did he bite me as I know this little guy knew I was helping him. He lived for a little over 5 years considering he was a special needs hamster. BTW: I'm not a vet, just a caring human being who has a passion for life. I thought I would share my story.