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Jessi answers more of your questions about animals! Poop, extinction guilt, and a surprise Steve.

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Hi guys.  Welcome back to Animal Wonders.  I'm Jessi and not only do I take care of 80 exotic animals but I also answer your questions on YouTube.  It's been a really busy week so I'm not at Animal Wonders right now, but I still wanted to make a video for you, so we're using Complexly's studios so I can answer your questions.


First question comes from Victor, who asks, "If given the chance to bring back a single species from extinction, which would it be?"

That's a really good question.  There are some extinct animals that I'd like to bring back just because I feel guilty that humans killed them off and, I don't know, maybe I want to apologize to them and give them another chance, like the Carolina parakeet, which is a really sad story, but that's a terrible way to start an episode, so if I could pick an extinct animal to bring back just for fun, I think I'd bring back the microraptor.  They were tiny feathered dinosaurs with not two, but four wings.  They were like little gliding velociraptors.  I imagine them as beautiful but ferocious tiny dragons.

Okay, Carol Prince, @carolprince82, asks, "I absolutely love your appearances on SciShow Talk Show.  Have there been instances when the animal couldn't adjust to the different settings, bright lights, camera equipment, etc?  Is there a difference in the way you have to handle them in such close quarters?"

The animals that we rescue have a really important job to do.  After they get settled in, we start to establish a trust bond with them, and then we teach them how to be ambassadors for their species.  The most important thing they learn is that their crate is a safe place where they can go if they're feeling overwhelmed.  For most of the animals, their crate is also a place that has treats and a comfy place to lay down.  When the animals trust me and they have a safe, rewarding place to go wherever we travel to, they feel confident in most situations, even on a set with lots of bright lights and people behind cameras.  The only big difference in being on the Talk Show film set is that I'm sitting down on a chair or couch instead of standing in front of my table like I normally do during a public presentation.

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This does throw some of the animals off, but they often surprise me with their tolerance and ability to adjust to new situations.  Our next question comes from Lindsey Doe @elleteedee.  She asks, "Which animal's poop smells the worst?  What do you do with all the poop?"

Thanks for this very important question, Lindsey.  Of the animals we have at Animal Wonders, the worst smelling poop is a tie between Cas the arctic fox and Pearl the Colombian tegu.  Cas' poop smells like warm skunk spray, which is really gross.  It gives me a headache and Pearl's poop smells like deep swamp yuck, which is just awful, but I don't have to be around the poop for very long, because as soon as it's cleaned up, we bring it out to our compost pile to decompose and turn into fertilizer.  We made a video a few years ago about our compost and I sat on a big pile of poop.  

Alright, Alyssa Iulianetti asks us, "Is Augusto going to be featured in any more videos soon?  I enjoyed hearing his expertise about fish."  

For those of you who don't know, Augusto is my husband and co-founder of Animal Wonders.  He's been busy setting up some beautiful aquariums and when he gets some more time, I'd love to have him back on, so if you have any questions about fish for him, go ahead and leave them in the comments below.

Next question is from Caroline McLaughlin.  She wants to know, "How do you introduce "scary" animals like snakes to audiences that might have negative preconceptions of them?"

We never want to scare someone with our animals because we know that experiences that have strong emotions connected to them can create memories that last a lifetime, so to prepare an audience for an animal that might make them nervous, we give them tools to use to show their fear.  The most important thing is for them to feel in control of their situation, so we tell anyone who feels nervous to cross their arms across their chest as a clear signal that the animal we have should not be brought closer to them.  We respect their reactions and often, when we do show this respect, they feel more comfortable and might even ask to see the animal closer and even touch it.  

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Sometimes, they break through a lifelong fear and that's incredible to see.  Okay, next question, Heather Liv has no questions, but her two year old loves Steve the cockatiel and just wanted to pass that info on.  (whistles)  Steve is very pleased to know that he has a devoted fan who's not afraid to let people know.  Hey, should we get to the next question?  Okay.

Alright, Shanna Mae Slight has another question, and I'm happy to report it's about poop.  "Do you ever worry about all the poop involved in caring for animals becoming a breeding ground for pathogens between the time the animal poops and you clean it up the next day?  Do you think you're sick more often because of all your animals?"  

I think I have a healthy concern about the gross factor of poop, maybe a bit more on the tolerant side than most people.  We clean up poop within 24 hours and if the animal is particularly messy, they get a full sanitizing clean every week.  We use vinegar to kill any pathogens that might be lingering before they can cause a problem.  I don't think I'm sick more often because I work with animals, but I do think I'm sick more often these last couple of years because I have a child who just started school.  Small humans concern me way more than poop.

Alright, next question comes from fossilfighters101, who asks, "What's your favorite sound that an animal of yours makes?"  

There's just too many to choose from!  When Chopsticks the quaker parrot says 'I love you', it's just the best thing, and when Hara the Harris's hawk purrs, I feel so honored to be considered her friend.  When the herd of guinea pigs squeal in excitement for breakfast, I can't help but love them, and when Huckleberry the beaver gives his soft whistle of happiness, my heart melts, and when Kemosabe the porcupine makes his happy eating noises, I'm on cloud nine.

Okay, up next, Alpha Stark wants to know, "Will having a sugar glider be bad for a dog's sleeping schedule?" 

Well, I think it depends on the individual dog, the personalities of the sugar gliders, and where their sleeping areas are located.  I can tell you that having sugar gliders in your room will most definitely have a negative impact on your own sleep schedule, because sugar gliders are very active, nocturnal animals and they make so much noise when they run and play.

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Elle's Animals and Lily Hiller are both interested in similar things.  They want to know how long I've been working with animals and when Animal Wonders was founded.  I've been around animals my entire life.  I had domestic animals as pets like dogs and cats when I was really young, and in middle school, I had rats and a small freshwater aquarium.  I loved spending time at the pet store, but we never had enough money to buy anything exotic like a bird or a large reptile.  In high school, I learned a lot about animal care and behavior when I worked at a vet clinic and then in college, I really started learning how to care for animals beyond domestic species when I was accepted into America's Teaching Zoo.  So I've been caring for animals professionally for over two decades, and when me and my husband Augusto founded Animal Wonders in 2008, I was 23, so I have been working for Animal Wonders for just over 10 years, and our last question comes from msknitsalot, who asks, "You've worked with so many animals.  Do you have a bucket list for species you haven't worked with yet?  Any animals you've always wanted to see in the wild?"

I've always wanted to see a bird of paradise in the wild.  That would be amazing.  Also seeing a pangolin in the wild.  I'd love to travel and see more animals in the wild, but I'm also very happy to have the responsibility of staying put and caring for all the animals at Animal Wonders.

Thanks for sending all your questions and being curious with me.  The world is full of wonders and I love answering your questions.  If you'd like to help us continue sharing our adventures with animals, you can join our community of Patrons on and get access to special perks like behind the scenes pictures, voting on animal names, exclusive videos of animals eating, and more.  Thanks for joining us and we'll see you next week.  


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