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Huckleberry the special needs beaver goes swimming in his new pool. Practice makes perfect! Watch him go!!!

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Hello and welcome back to Animal Wonders.  I can't tell you how excited I've been this week because Huckleberry, our beaver, is learning to swim.  Huckleberry is an orphaned beaver who has some disabilities that make it challenging to do all the things a beaver normally does, like swimming.  We're started introducing him to his new home and more exciting, his new pool!


Huckleberry's new home isn't done yet, but we're close enough that he can begin the process of learning how to safely move around his new space, so I'm going to get prepared and then go get him for a visit to his pool.

First, I need some of his favorite foods.  So the challenging part about introducing Huckleberry to deep water is that he has impaired vision in his right eye and ataxia, which is a neurological condition that causes lack of coordination of his muscles.  Combined, these disabilities can make it hard for Huckleberry to walk, climb, or swim without accidentally hurting himself.  

Now, let's go get him into his crate.  Huckleberry does really well most of the time and only occasionally has trouble with his disabilities.  He'll sometimes walk into branches, stumble to the side, or fall forward off a rock he's standing on.  Usually it's just minor and he recovers pretty quickly, so it's not a major concern to his health.  We just need to keep his abilities in mind when we care for him.

When he moved into his current space, it took him a couple weeks to get the hang of climbing a ramp and getting in and out of his tank of water, but he manages really well now.  That tells me that with practice, he can learn how to navigate in a space that he knows well.  So, practice makes perfect.  

Okay, we made it.  Now, my biggest concern is that Huckleberry will aspirate or breathe water into his nose.  Beavers are semi-aquatic and spend a lot of their time floating and swimming in the water. 

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They have special muscles that close their nostrils when they dive, but with his ataxia, there's a chance he'll lose his coordination and his nostrils won't close when he goes underwater.  This actually happened when we were first introducing him to swimming.  He was at an age where he should have been a proficient swimmer, but when he dipped his head under the water, he aspirated and he was still quite small and weak from malnutrition, so it was a bit of a scare.

Alright, buddy, are you ready?  Come on out.  Now that Huckleberry is bigger, stronger, and robustly healthy, and he's had lots of practice managing his disabilities, I think he's ready to take on this new challenge of swimming in a pool, so Huckleberry has been in here only twice before, but this time, I filled the water a bit higher.  The first time, there was just six inches of water and I wanted to make sure he could navigate the stairs and he could safely explore the new space.

The second time, I filled it halfway up the second stair so he had a place to wade onto before going fully into the deep end.  Both times, he managed the stairs really well.  He did what he's learned to do and that's to go slowly and feel with his hands before fully committing to stepping down.  Also, both times when he dipped his head underwater, he did get some in his nose but he was able to blow it back out and that's what I'm hoping he'll be able to do from here on out.

Even if his ataxia makes him uncoordinated and he aspirates the water, it'll happen less and less often the more he practices, and since he's strong and healthy, he'll be able to just blow it out or sneeze and clear his lungs.  Look at him go.  He's just really enjoying himself.  Whoo, look at that!  I don't know if you can see him, but as he dove, his nostrils closed right on up there and then he was able to come back out and the water just slipped out, so I think he's doing amazing.  Thanks.  

Now, while he's having fun, if you've noticed that there are some ugly unfinished spots on the walls where tiles need to be mounted, it's because we're not done with Huckleberry's new home yet.

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He has a nice indoor space here, which we'll be adding lots of fun branches to play with, but he also needs a yard out back.  You can claim one of these tiles by donating to Animal Wonders and we'll put your name on the tile and it will be part of Huckleberry's new home forever.  I've put some links in the doobly-doo below for donating and claiming your tile.  Please check them out and help us make Huckleberry the happiest beaver he can be.  

And now it's time to persuade a beaver to come out of this water and back in his crate.  Wanna come out?  Yeah.  You can't stay in here just yet.  You need a little bit more practice.  Remember, practice makes perfect.  Yeah?   We can come back tomorrow.  You wanna come out of there  Here, I don't feel like stepping down in the water.  Do you smell the apple?  Go and eat it.  Go get the apple.  Are you--uhhh.  It's so cold, guys.  Here we go.  Hey (?~5:17).  I know!  There you go!  Ooough.  And another one, ooh.  You're heavy, beaver.  I got ya.  Up we go, in the crate.  Oh my gosh.  Whoo!  

Well, that cold.

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I'm gonna go ahead and bring him back to his other enclosure and we'll practice some more tomorrow.  If you want to keep following along with Huckleberry and all of our other animals, subscribe to animalwondersmontana and we'll see you next week.

Thanks for watching Animal Wonders Montana, which is produced by Complexly.  If you want to keep imagining the world complexly with us, check out Crash Course: Business Soft Skills, hosted by Evelyn from the Internets.  Over 17 episodes, she'll teach you how to tackle the job search and use skills you already have to stand out in the workplace.  Check out the first video about the key to all things business: building trust.  The link is in the description.