Why is he here. Washed up on KZN beach. An Antarctic Fur seal. Welcome Arcto
Part of my job – how lucky am I – is to work with our animal care teams to assist stranded animals. The job with Arcto has been to teach him to eat fish from our hands, so we can fatten him up and release him when he is healthy. To get this right, we need to be totally aware of our actions in relation with him, and his reactions in relation to us. When we approach him he may feel threatened, for example. So we use this information to tell him what we wish from him. On our approach, every time he is calm, we leave the space, so increasing his motivation to be calm. Using this simple method of noting what motivates him, the rehab team, have successfully taught him to eat from us.
I would just like to say, once again, how fortunate I feel to do what I do. And to be supported by a team that is so sensitive and intent to do what needs doing for the right reason. For example, observation skills had to be on super alert so that we could teach him to eat for more than one person.
The first handover was from a right-handed person to a left-handed person. We had to be finely tuned to his responses to ensure that the second person was providing him with the same information as the first. This not only required the keen observation skills of the people involved, but also the people watching.
Coming in early and working overtime – part of the package. Actually, this is easy. Because people are so keen to make progress for this beautiful seal. Who is affectionately know as Bear.
So, this is a high five, to this team. But not only to team seal. To so many who dedicate their lives to caring for animals.
Animal Care is work that requires, heart and feeling. Without that – the necessary work will not be achieved.
This work requires keen observation skills – and these are keen when there is heart – because people look and see more when they are motivated by feeling.
It is work that requires commitment, sometimes in the face of fear – fear of failure, fear of getting hurt by big physical wild animals, fear of doing the wrong thing – but this commitment is made possible when we care.
It is work that takes free time away from families, and personal lives – but it is done because there is the necessary love.
It is work that requires humility – with humility we can make decisions for the animal, rather than for ourselves – this is because of that unconditional love.
So look back at this list – and see that I work with amazing people because they care. They are in relationship with sentient beings, doing what they do for the good or our planet. So much love.
Often these people are criticised for being emotional – and this criticism is a good measure of the fact that we have the right people doing the job.
I acknowledge all of you – not only this team, but every animal care person on the planet – Thank you for caring!