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We had to say goodbye to some of our animal friends. This is always a hard thing for us and while we don't like to share sad news, we feel that it's an important part of our mission of animal rescue and education.

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Hi, everyone!

Welcome back to Animal Wonders. I want to start by saying that I absolutely love being able to share all the animals with you.

The new rescues we’re able to take in, the successful recoveries, and the new milestones in training, or just the animals having fun. But among all these amazing moments we get to spend with each of these little guys, there’s also struggle, grief, and loss. Even after working with and caring for animals for about 20 years, saying goodbye to an animal really hasn’t gotten any easier.

And because one of my favorite things to do is bring happiness to others, I don’t enjoy sharing the sad and really hard parts of caring for animals. But even though I would rather share just the highlights, I think it's important to make sure you know what's happening with all the animals and give you updates if there are any changes. Being honest about what it’s like rescuing and providing care to so many animals is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.

So, it’s time to give you some updates on a few of the animals we’ve recently had to say goodbye to. But I’d like to do that while also celebrating their lives and the incredible impact that they had during their short time in this world, because that’s what continues to bring me joy even though they’re no longer with us. [CHEERY INTRO MUSIC]. Let’s start with Pumpkin, who was an amazingly adorable guinea pig.

Pumpkin was well known for her epic hairdos and mild but firm management of our little guinea pig herd. She was a discarded pet whose original owners got as a baby and then grew bored of. Every time I hung out with her, I was baffled at how anyone could not want to keep her, because she was perfect.

She was calm, affectionate, got along with everyone, loved trying new foods, and had a new ridiculous hairdo every day. Pumpkin was so tolerant and even indulged my attempts at a festive photo shoot. She was such a character!

She even made simply drinking water into an adventure. Like, look at her impressive water mustache! Pumpkin passed away from complications with her reproductive tract.

She got an infection from a small tear in her uterine lining, and by the time she started showing symptoms and we began treatment, it was already too late. Pumpkin left behind her daughter Squash and granddaughter Pepita, who are still happily thriving in the herd. I miss our long haired friend, but I’m incredibly happy that we were able to give her a second chance at a good life, living with others of her own kind and spreading happiness to those who met her at our public presentations.

The next hard goodbye is one that I’m still struggling with. Maav, an adult female raven that we took in last year after having survived a broken and amputated wing, is no longer with us. When we first learned that Maav was at the rehabilitation center, and receiving care was determined by if she had a permanent home lined up before surgery, we said we wanted to give her a chance to become a companion for Rook, our adult female raven that we’ve had for 7 years.

This means that because of her extensive injury, she had no chance of being released back into the wild, and if there wasn’t a facility that could care for her in captivity, she would be humanely euthanized. After a few months in recovery she was ready to come to Animal Wonders, but during that time a young male, Luka, was also admitted to the rehabilitation center and was in need of a home, too. So we said we’d give them both a try and hoped that all three would come together as a cohesive group.

At first, we thought it would work out well, but after a few weeks we realized it was going to be a lot more complicated than we thought. To try and make it work, we tried many different housing arrangements: moving Luka out so Rook and Maav could bond, moving the two girls into a larger space, and even giving Maav her own space to see if she would be happier that way. But no matter what we tried, Maav continued to show symptoms of extreme stress.

We tried to gently build a trust bond with her, but whenever we offered her food or even just walked by, she would become very agitated, and eventually she began plucking out Rook’s feathers and then her own. If Maav was working on being released into the wild, a strong fear response to humans would be good news. And if she didn’t have such a severe wing injury making her unable to fly, she would have been a perfect candidate for release because she disliked humans that much.

Unfortunately, there are some individuals that just do not tolerate living under human care very well. Since it wasn’t an option to release her back into the wild where she came from, we were trying everything we could to give her a safe and happy life. We even contacted other facilities and corvid professionals asking what we could do to help her be less stressed and more content in her new life.

So while captivity could offer her safety from starvation and predators, it couldn’t offer her anything to benefit her mental and physical well-being. So Maav just wasn’t able to thrive in captivity. Which led us to making the heartbreaking decision to have Maav humanely euthanized.

It’s in these situations with an animal that I wish I could just to explain what’s happening to them. To let her know that we wouldn’t harm her and we even had two raven friends for her to share her life with. That was my hope for Maav, and it’s been really hard goodbye.

By sharing all the details of what happened, what we tried to give her, and the incredibly hard choice we made,. I hope that you can understand how challenging rescuing animals can be sometimes. I would like to say that the other two ravens are doing really well.

And while we’re still mourning the loss of Maav, we’re so thankful to be able to provide a safe home for Luka and Rook to have a good and comfortable life. The last friend I’d like to talk about is Cas our Arctic fox. Cas was such a big part of Animal Wonders.

He was kind of larger than life. He was this little shy 10 pound fox, but he represented so much. When he was younger, Cas didn’t tolerate large crowds and the public programs he could comfortably be a part of were few and far between.

But, you should have seen how much those who met him fell in love with him. Cas loved his companion Seraphina the red fox the best, but he also liked playing in huge cardboard boxes and exploring outside on long walks in the meadow and forest. As Cas grew older and calmer, he felt more comfortable with a variety of public presentations, and he was able to create an impact on thousands of people.

When Cas was diagnosed with cancer in 2018, I knew it was the beginning of some hard times with his medical care. But the priority was always, "Do what’s in his best interest. Just make sure he’s comfortable and happy." When he lost his leg and became a tripod fox, he definitely slowed down, but you could still see that he was himself, enjoying his walks, toys, lounge time, and treats.

And when he was diagnosed with a neurogenic bladder and we had to help him relieve himself, we knew his time with us was limited, but we didn’t know how long. He still enjoyed doing all the same activities he had as a younger fox, and he even started enjoying neck and back massages from his humans. Which I can tell you, as a human whose natural instinct is to show affection through touch, it was so nice to be able to offer Cas another form of enrichment and interaction.

We watched as Cas grew physically older and weaker, and we promised him that we would do whatever we could to ensure he had a good quality of life. As long as he was still enjoying his time here, we would continue to offer him support. So when Cas refused his breakfast one morning, we knew his time had come.

It was a gentle, calm, and humane euthanasia. And while I was so sad to say goodbye to my long-time friend,. I feel comfort knowing that we did everything right by him and he had a good life.

I don’t know what you’re feeling right now, but I’m feeling sad. I’m sad but I also could feel a kind of warmth, too. I think that when we lose someone we love, the memories are so tied up with emotions that it can sometimes feel overwhelming and confusing.

Sometimes I feel angry and sometimes I feel guilty, and then out of the blue. I feel happy to the point of crying, like my love for them is pouring out. I think the warmth I’m feeling is the love I felt for these animals, but also that I’m able to share my love for them with you, and I find comfort in knowing that they were also loved by others.

Experiencing all of these emotions might be hard, but it’s also very much part of being a human. Just like Pumpkin, Maav, and Cas experienced life through their own natural processes as a species but also as individuals, we are all experiencing life as humans but also as individuals. I’m sorry I had to share these losses with you, but I hope you understand why I feel it’s important for us to show this side of things as well.

If you’re struggling with your own loss, please feel free to share your experience in the comments below. And as a community, let’s support each other in our love for the animals in our lives and for all. In next week’s video, I promise I’ll have better news and everyone can celebrate and enjoy meeting another rescue.

Until then, I’ll see you in the comments. Give your pets and loved ones some extra love, and I hope you have a really good week. Bye! [BOLD OUTRO MUSIC].