Sunday 22nd March
Sunday is not necessarily a day of rest, here! The animals know no difference from other days and still need to be fed, cleaned, and enriched! Days off are one-a-week and our choice, first come first served. I had Saturday off this week.
After my first two days on Primates, Weds and Friday I was once again on Bears, which was great because I love them! After a month and a half of solid flip-flop wearing, I reluctantly donned my hiking boots and socks.. the bear fields are full of long grass and leaves and fruit&veg remains, and bear s***, so proper footwear really is the best option! There are two teams of bear-people, one does the four 'school bears'(rescued from outside a school) and Oompoom, who was rescued from a tiny cage in a fish market in Ranong in Southern Thailand. He is 10years old, but so active and full of energy! He likes to destroy everything put into his area, eats loads and makes a LOT of mess!
The other bear team looks after the three 'Temple Bears'(yes, you guess where they came from), the field of Nine Bears, then Joan and Bouncer, two old bears in a field together.. Bouncer only has three legs!
The first job is cleaning the enclosure and scattering food throughout, to encourage the bears to search for it and use the full extent of their area.. ALL volunteers start at 6.30am, as all animals are fed before our breakfast at 8am. Early mornings are fine, I am in bed by 9.30pm every night, the heat is so exhausting! After breakfast, 9am is usually a pool scrub, today we did OomPooms pool, full of bear poo and slime, lovely!
Then after that, we give enrichments to the bears. Some get enrichments three times a day (the babies, and Joan, who has a wound on her stomach, enrichments give her something to do and distract her from worrying at it). Food enrichments have included wide pieces of bamboo stuffed with pineapple, monkey chow, coconut and frozen, whole coconuts for them to break into, frozen lumps of mushed up food- frozen stuff is good as it takes them a little while longer to eat, and cools them down. Non-food stuff is like, some of them LOVE to be sprayed with water from the hose, in the hottest part of the day, they love being given big logs, which they rip up. The enclosures have plenty of things to climb, tunnels, tyre-swings and stuff, but it is a constant mission to find stuff to stimulate them and 'enrich' their lives.
Some of the enclosures here, although excellent and interesting for the animals and stuff, are a little smaller than ideal, but the centre is really limited by money, it is a charity and is constantly expanding and has to choose what to spend funds on.. it can't spend on everything. However much some of the animals might prefer a larger enclosure, they are ALL rescued from cruel situations and are all a million times better off here, where they get the proper diet and ventarinary care they need, than they would otherwise have been.
So afternoon is another feed, more enrichment and things. Around the animal jobs, are fitted domestic duties, like cleaning and tidying... today I am on 'Volunteer House Duty', which basically entails preparing plates&cutlery for, and cleaning up after, meals and cleaning the communal bathrooms, sweeping, stuff like that. It is kindof lengthy, but rota means each person doesn't have to do it too often.
After a week, I am only now just feeling that I know everyone's names. Because there is such a big group here, there are still people I haven't really had chance to chat to, but am gettting to know more every day. Evenings are social, with sometimes stuff organised.. tomorrow is a BBQ and on Friday we are doing a fundraising 'bidder promises', where each person pledges to DO something for someone else, it is like an auction, we all pick what we would like to buy, and bid on it, the highest bidder wins. I have pledged to make someone (whoever wins) a cup of tea or coffee and bring it to them in bed in the morning before starting work (prob 6am).. think it will be quite a popular one, it was my day off yesterday and I was sat in bed, reading, wishing someone could bring me one! Not sure what I will bid on yet, one girl offered to make banana milkshakes for whoever wins it, so maybe that, or one guy offered someone a day out when he goes golfing, to carry his clubs (read: TANNING OPPORTUNITY!)- but think that one might be really popular and don't have much money, so maybe not. All the money goes to the centre, which is great.
Saturday was my day off, it was lovely! I read in bed for a while, then showered, wandered into the village to internet, then got back, lazed around, read some more, then at 5.30 we all piled into the pickups and they drove us to a nearby river to go swimming. Because of the locals, had to swim in long shorts and a T-shirt, but it was fine.. it was a wide wide bit of river, with SUCH a strong current, swimming against it was like being on a water-treadmill, but so fun!
Today (Sunday) on Bears again, done some pool scrubbing and stuff.. there are quite a few new volunteers from the UK arriving in the next few days, so will be nice to have a few fellow brits here! Have to go back now, as must get all the plates and stuff out for lunch...