Saturday, 17 January 2009

Tales of a country park

I thought I'd give a wee story or two from when I worked in a country park. I was there for about 6 months, first as a volunteer but after about a month they offered me a paid postion to help out over the winter months. It was nice of them, as I would have just continues to volunteer but I wasnt going to turn down the extra cash.

Anyway this country park consisted of a childrens petting zoo type bit with goats, sheep, a donkey, guinea pigs, rabbits, a bull Zebu, some wallibies and muntjack deer as well as chickens, ducks and turkeys. There was a carnivore section that had Scottish wild cats, a pine martin, ferrets, about 6 types of owl, mink and a silver fox. There was also a large section of 'wild' herds of deer (4 types) some ponies, sheep and goats.

As a paid member of staff I was allowed into enclosures of animals considered 'dangerous'. Surprisingly this did not include any of the carnivores, as I was able to go in to all of their enclosures as a volunteer.

The worst of the offenders was Zebedee, the bull Zebu. He had been hand reared at the park, and as such was a little.....over friendly. As a young bull he and the groundkeepers would often play a game of Shove, where the keepers would give him a shove and he would shove back. He never quite got to realise his size and strength as he grew up and as a result had to have his horns removed (and my goodness I'm glad he did) incase he injured someone during a game.

This, for reference, is a dwarf Zebu

Anyway one day I had brought my digital camera in to work to take some new pictures of the animals and headed off to see Zeb. He was bored that day, I think as he immediatly came gallumping over to see me as soon as I set foot in his enclosure. I got a couple of nice pictures of him when he decided it was about time for a good ol' game of Shove.

I was at one side of the enclosure, which met with the enclosure to one of the owls, so rather than being a wooden fence, it was chicken wire. About 25 feet high. No means of escape. Anyway Zeb decided that he would get to shove first and pinned me, by the shins, to the chickenwire fence. Now he decided that just a wee shove wasnt quite enough and then proceeded to ram his head as hard as possible into my shins. Just at that point a visitor to the park wandered past with her grandaughter (who was maybe 4?). So I was trying to stay calm, edge my way towards the wooden fence about 10 feet away, convince this woman that everything is fiiiine, get Zeb away from me with nothing but a camera at my disposal (and I wasnt using was my mums, what if it broke on his noggin?) and not panic about the crushing feeling on my legs. I was quite convinced he was going to snap my shins but by some miracle I managed to get to the fence, clamber over, calm the woman and her now crying grandchild down by explaining he was just playing (though it didnt bloomin' feel like playing to me!) and then stagger my way back to the feedhouse.
I decided to not let my boss know what had happened, as I was convinced I would get into trouble as we had been told not to go into his enclosure without another member of staff nearby. Now I know why!
Unfortunatly that was not the last time Zebedee got one over on me. Boy oh boy am I glad he got his horns removed.....

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