Saturday, June 28, 2008

turtle in the mud, yeah, yeah.

I spent my Friday night coaxing a giant tortoise out of a mud pit. By giant, I mean 480 pounds. By mud pit, I mean mud and water up to my knees and reaching in up to my shoulders. For nearly an hour. When it was over I looked like I had just finished playing mud volleyball and had made several dives. It was disgusting! Yet oddly fun...

My boss called a little before 8pm and said she was gathering people to get the tortoise out of his mud pit and into his house for the night. He's been acting "off"-will go several days without eating or spend days at a time in his mud. The vet can't figure out what is wrong. The bloodwork is normal and there are no obvious signs of illness. I am the primary keeper and I've been terrified and stressed-out. The unknown stinks!!!

Anyway, two of my coworkers, a couple of their family members, the boss and I all got into the mud to coax George out. George didn't want to go out! He turned in circle after circle. We had him halfway out several times but he turned around and went back to his starting spot. My job the entire time was to keep him moving by playing with the spot under his tail. (I don't know why, but tortoises seem to have a certain spot that if you mess with it they will move. The "spot" was how I began training our two much younger and smaller Galapagos tortoises to go into their barn at night a couple years ago.) I spent an hour doubled over, playing with a tortoise tail. Yes, my back is stiff today, thanks for asking :)

George FINALLY decided to get out and we used push boards to keep him in a straight line into his barn. It was a huge relief to be done. Hopefully he will snap out of whatever is wrong and be fine. He's been through similar illnesses before... I'm still worried half to death.

Most of us were COVERED in mud. I had long before ditched my boots because they kept getting bogged in the sludge. I had mud up to my upper thighs and up to my shoulders. My clothes are trash. I hosed off the best I could and put a garbage bag on my car seat. I probably clogged my shower drain with dirt and can still smell the nastiness. I seriously don't even want to think about what was in that pit besides water and mud. It's all fun and games until someone gets parasites :)

Today I have to bail the water and shovel out the sludge. My relief keeper put two bales of straw into the pit last weekend so I will have to remove that as well. (The goal of the straw was to help dry the pit, but when it pours rain every stinking day the straw does nothing.) Ugh. It's 5:30am and the ONLY thing I want to do is go check on the tortoise! I'll make myself wait until 6:30!

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