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That hardest part of caring for animals is when we have to say goodbye. In this video we honor some of our loved animal friends that we recently lost by sharing their stories and memories so we remember what made them special to us and much we loved them.

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Hi everyone, welcome back to  Animal Wonders.

I’m Jessi,   and this is Ginger the green-cheeked conure. I absolutely love caring for animals.

It was my  dream to be able to rescue displaced animals in   need, and decades later it’s still my number one  passion. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some   downsides. Definitely, the hardest part about  caring for animals is when they pass away. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC] There’s no way around it, death is a  hard topic to talk about.

Unfortunately,   death is a part of life and every one  of us will encounter more or less of   it in our lifetimes. And I have some sad  news to share about some of our animals. We had the pleasure of meeting Ophelia the  opossum in 2019, and I fell totally head   over heels for her adorable face and gentle  personality.

Ophelia was found orphaned in   her mother’s pouch with her sibling after her  mother was hit by a car. Ophelia’s leg was so   badly damaged in the accident that it needed  to be removed. Her brain also sustained damage,   and together the two injuries made it so  she could not be returned to the wild.

I loved getting to care for Ophelia.  I loved our walks outside.   I loved how much she loved having her ear scratched. I loved how many people fell in love with her, too. I love the impact she made for her species helping to dispel the negative views opossums can sometimes get.

I love that I simply got to meet her and have her in my life. Ophelia was showing us signs that she  was getting to the end of her life.   She was less active and became  more picky with what she would eat. She spent more time sleeping and less time  grooming herself.

And when she started to lose   weight and muscle mass, we knew the  time was coming soon to say goodbye. Ophelia passed away in her sleep after  one last visit with her veterinarian,   who confirmed her body was no longer able  to support her. Opossums naturally live   1-3 years, and Ophelia was almost  3 years old when she died.

It took me a while to process my grief after her  passing. While I knew what I was getting into,   it’s still hard to love an animal that only lives 3 years so much. I’m thankful for the time that I had with her, and I’m thankful she was able to live  a comfortable life while she was here.

I’m also thankful that we were able to honor her memory by sharing her space with a new animal that needed a safe home and good food to eat. When we knew Ophelia wasn’t going to be with us much longer,   we were able to offer Inky the opossum a home at Animal Wonders. He’s now living in Ophelia’s old home and while it’s hard not to see Ophelia there, it sure is nice to see an opossum using the space.

Now, do you remember Willow and Kia, the wonderful ringneck doves? Willow and Kia were a bonded pair of doves who were just the sweetest. When they first met, Willow would dance and coo for Kia, and we assumed Willow was a male because that's what normal male behavior was.

But after they built  a nest and proceeded to lay 4 eggs instead of the normal 2 eggs, we realized both Kia and Willow were female. These two gals were wonderful ambassadors for their species,   teaching about doves, how invasive species  can become established, and showing off   their special adaptations for survival. I loved  hearing Willow make her courtship coos to Kia   and seeing them both attempt to incubate  their infertile eggs at the same time.

We don’t know how old Kia was, but she came in with neurological damage and was always a bit off balance. When her balance became worse and worse  and she could no longer perch or feed herself,   Dr. Card, our veterinarian, recommended that Kia be humanely euthanized.

We knew that Willow would need a new companion since doves don’t thrive alone. So we set about trying to find her a friend. A couple weeks went by and we found a lead to a possible match.

Unfortunately, Willow didn’t stick around to let us introduce her to another companion. Willow passed away overnight and there was no obvious physical reason, so we don’t have a medical explanation for her passing. Not a day  goes by that I don’t miss hearing Willow’s sweet cooing, knowing she’s singing her song for Kia. [WILLOW COOING] We also had a really hard loss when our wonderful tortoise Waffle passed away.

Her loss was unexpected, and we’re missing her a ton. Waffle had many issues with her health and suffered from metabolic bone disease due to not getting the proper lighting and diet throughout her life.   She came to Animal Wonders in her teens, and we  worked really hard to get her back to health.   We did everything we could for her, and she seemed  to be thriving. My favorite memories with Waffle   are watching her thoroughly enjoy her food,  because I knew she didn’t get access to good food   before coming to live with us.

Her favorite food  was softened tortoise pellets. And it was cute because   she would choose the nutrition packed pellet  option over the juiciest of fruits or fresh   crunchy greens. She was a wonderful companion  to Yucca and we all just really miss her.

We still have Yucca and Titus who are both healthy  and doing well. Waffle’s loss has left us not   only with achy hearts, but also a complicated  situation with the companions she left behind.   As a healthy and active male, Titus does push  Yucca around a bit. We do provide Yucca places where   she can get some alone time away from Titus when  they’re inside during the cold months, but having   another gal will help split his attention and the  whole situation will be much more harmonious.

So, not only do we miss Waffle, we also miss how  well she completed the tortoise trio. So we have been on the lookout for another female red-footed tortoise that needs a home to come join the crew. Along with Ophelia, Willow and Kia, and  Waffle, we're also grieving the loss of   two of our little mammal friends, Tickles and  Gadget, both of whom developed terminal cancer   and were humanely euthanized.

Euthanisia  is always such a hard choice to make,   but when you know there’s only more suffering  to be had and it’s not going to get better,   I believe it’s the kindest gift that you can give. Gadget the sugar glider was only about 7 years old,   and his quick decline in health took us all by surprise. Dr.

Card was surprised   by how quickly the cancer spread and  helped us navigate his end of life care. Gadget came to Animal Wonders as an unwanted  pet when he was about a year old. He became   the companion to our older male, Gizmo,  and the two were fast friends.

It was   such a joy to see two solo sugar gliders  find companionship with each other and be   able to fulfill that need for socialization that  these little guys must have in order to thrive. When Gizmo passed away from terminal cancer  at about 15 years old, Gadget joined up with   Ping-Pong and Boomerang, a pair of boys that  had been abandoned in an apartment. We weren’t   sure how three males would do together, but the  two boys accepted Gadget, and the three of them   got up to so much mischief together!

Gadget’s loss  is felt by us more than Ping-Pong and Boomerang,   since they still have each other for company.  I’m still quite sad about Gadget since he was   so young when he developed cancer. Dr. Card shared that Gadget was otherwise   healthy, and the cancer was unusually  aggressive. I know that there was nothing that we could have done differently to keep him  with us longer, but my heart still hurts.

Now, Tickles the hedgehog lived a very full life, and while losing her is hard,   it’s easier to know that she lived out a normal  lifespan. She was loved, she was comfortable,   and she had everything she needed to live  a long and healthy life. She was such an   amazing ambassador for her species!

She visited  thousands of people and was able to share her story of how   she was passed around from home to home to home,  because none of them knew how to properly care   for a hedgehog. She was being fed the wrong  kind of food which gave her diarrhea, and she   was being kept in too small of an enclosure. So  when you combine diarrhea and a tiny space, well,   you can imagine the results.

Tickles was calm and  friendly with everyone, so when people met her   in person, they could feel how prickly hedgehog  quills can be. Together we were able to educate people about proper hedgehog care and help prevent  a repeat of her story with other hedgehogs.   Tickles also famously dealt a death blow to  our second ever livestream on the channel.   Just stomped her little paw right on the button  and shut the whole thing down. What a riot!

Tickles developed brain cancer and slowly declined in her abilities. When she was no longer able to stand and eat,   we knew it was time for us to help her pass away  peacefully, and Dr. Card helped us lay her to rest.

Again, the hardest part of caring for animals  isn’t the long hours, or the endless physical   labor, or even the accidental bumps, bruises, and  scratches. The hardest part is feeling the absence   of those that leave us behind. When you pour your  heart into loving and caring for another being,   it hurts to lose them.

Sometimes it takes longer  than other times to recover from that hurt. But   if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about  loss and death, it's that it hurts the most when   you’ve loved the most. And knowing how much  love I’ve given helps me through the hurt.

Thank you for letting me share these wonderful  animals with you. I wish I could tell you that   every animal you meet on our channel will live  forever! Believe me, I wish so bad that I could.   But that’s not possible, and being able  to share the wonders of animals with you   comes with some grief as well as joy.  I hope you are able to continue sharing   your love with those around you as we do at Animal  Wonders.

And if you’d like to help us continue to   care for these amazing souls through all stages  of their lives, you can join us over on Patreon.   I’ve put the link in the description. And I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day. Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC]