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Huckleberry's New Home is looking good but we're not done yet, check it out!

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Hello and welcome back to Animal Wonders.  We've been working on a big project for over a year now, and I'm just so darn excited to show you what we've accomplished, so buckle up for an update on Huckleberry the beaver and a visit to see the progress on his new home.


We're going into Huckleberry's new home right now and I'm so excited to show you but let's take a step back and see what led us to this point.  Huckleberry is a North American beaver that was orphaned and injured and brought to Animal Wonders in July 2017 when he was just about five weeks old.  He's not able to be released back into the wild because he has ataxia, which is a neurological condition where he doesn't have full control of his muscles all of the time.  He also has impaired vision in his right eye.  Put these together and you have a beaver who will sometimes stumble and fall sideways, sometimes run into walls or branches, and submerging under deep water could be risky if he loses control of the muscles around his nostrils and water gets into his nose.

Even with his disabilities, Huckleberry is a charismatic guy who deserves the best care we can provide for him.  He likes to chew on and stack branches and make makeshift forts.  He likes wading in shallow water and he loves eating.  His favorite snacks are yams and apples, but he'll add any kind of plant to his menu, including leaves and wood.  

A little over a year ago, we asked for help raising funds to build a new home that would keep Huckleberry happy and healthy for the rest of his life.  Because beavers are semi-aquatic, we needed to design a pool for him and that's not an easy task because we live in an area that gets really cold for half the year.  We're often below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple months at a time.  

We had so much support.  We were able to make the plans and start construction on his new home, but it's not done yet.  This is what we've been working on so far.  We dug a huge trench to lay down the water line six feet deep to prevent them from freezing over the winter months.  We also ran electricity so we could give him light and run a pump and filter in his pool.

All this digging left our entire yard a huge, muddy mess, which we'll be cleaning up this spring.  Next, we laid down a slab of concrete, including a hole for the pool, and then up went the walls.  During the process, we included a second enclosure under the same roof so we could be prepared for the future if, or more likely, when another animal needed a safe place to call home.  We got the roof on just before the first big snow and then it really started to come together.  

We finished the walls with super extra insulation to make sure the pool wouldn't freeze and added a little bit of heat.  Next came the important part.  We had to make everything chew-proof, because, well, this is a home for a beaver.  Everything within reach of a beaver is covered in metal or tile or concrete.  I'll be adding a big log against the edge of the pool here, which will help prevent him from falling in unexpectedly, and we added wide steps so it creates a gradual deepening of the water.  

The steps are long enough for him to be able to wade onto and then rest on before he has to prepare for the next step down.  The pool is a really important feature of his new home, but it's also the most risky.  Beavers are semi-aquatic, which means they need to have access to both land and water in order to thrive, so water is necessary but we have to be cautious and see if and how quickly he can learn to safely swim because of his ataxia.  

So, we'll start off with just shallow water that he can wade into and hopefully we can raise the level up until it's filled to the top.  Since we don't know how he's going to react, it could be a slow process, but we'll let him take the lead at whatever speed is comfortable for him.  I'm so excited!  

Now, we're obviously not done with this space yet.  We have a few things left to finish.  The first is we need to add siding to the outside.  We also have to add the outdoor yard off the back side, and we have to finish this top row of tiles.  This is the fun part.  Those of you that have been with us for a while and helped us get this project off the ground might know that the tiles we're going to line around this pool have the names of supporters who donated to build Huckleberry his new home painted on them.  We're painting the names on the tiles now, and we actually have room for more names, so if you missed donating the first time around, you have another chance to get your name on a tile.

We're also opening up another round of fundraising so we can complete the big outdoor yard, making it completely chew-proof and beaver friendly, and all donations given will go twice as far in a unique way.  Any donation given in Huckleberry's name will be applied to our Critter Champion Campaign, where we're offering 11 rural Montana schools a free five-week program for their students. 

Here's how it works: You give a one-time donation or pledge a monthly amount, and every $1000 we raise, another school gets visited by 25 of our animals over five weeks to learn all about life sciences, respecting animals and nature, and learning by example how to be kind and show empathy to all living things.  All the funds raised will go toward finishing Huckleberry's home, including his outdoor yard.  I've put a link in the description where you can go to donate.  We're counting on the support from all the animal enthusiasts out there to help us reach our goal of $11,000.  We are a non-profit, so all US donations made to this project are tax-deductible.  Together, we can make amazing things happen.  

Again, all donations made will go toward giving free science education to rural students and completing Huckleberry's amazing new home, plus you can get your name on a tile showing your support for Huckleberry, education, and our mission of always improving the lives of the animals we care for. 

Thank you for letting me share what we've been working on and what our future plans are.  I hope you can join us in this fundraiser and I'll be sure to capture Huckleberry's reaction to his new home and his new pool as possible.  Thanks, and I'll see you next week.