Brianna Simpson Mr. Bernstein English 101 16 October 2013 Essay #2: Profile Never Wild Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals, “love” them. But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more. – Edwin Way Teale Nearly two miles up a rocky washboard dirt road in Phelan, California is Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary at 8545 Buttemere Road. Driving up, I could see two signs on the chain link fence that rounded the corner of the property – one, directing my attention to a house down the road on my left read, “Almquist Home,” and the ther pointing ahead on the left claimed, “Learning Center. I parked in the white, pea-sized gravel lot directly in front of the learning center. There I met Joel and Chemaine Almquist who own ten acres in the chaparral Just east of the San Gabriel Mountains. Joel wheezed in a raspy, grating voice, “I’ve always had animals, and Chemaine, well, she Just has to have what she has to have. We’ve been here since ’97. I had many of my snakes before that though. But we’ve only been open to the public since then. ” So, for almost twelve years, the Almquists ran the show on their own ambition and with their own finances.
In January of 2009, their family was selected to receive an “Extreme Makeover” for their home. Extreme Makeover was a reality television series that rebuilt the homes of families in need, and the Almquists direly needed a new home. Because of everything that was required to care for their animals, their home was quite literally falling apart around them; they could not afford to look after themselves and the animals. What they didn’t expect was having new enclosures built for their animals and a learning center built to better educate the public about wildlife.
I ambled into the learning center and a symphony of screeches, screams, and histles erupted from the painter’s palette of parrots in the main lobby. Directly before me stood several wooden racks and shelves of merchandise manufactured specifically for Forever Wild. All along the walls of the approximately eight hundred foot square room resided captive bred – never wild – animals in cages, terrariums, and aquariums. In that initial glance, there seemed to be around thirty animals in that room alone. I thought to myself, How many more animals could there be?
Dana Harper, a volunteer and office assistant to Chemaine, informed me, “We have over two hundred animals. ” Dana is the image ofa zookeeper. She is roughly five- and-a-half feet tall, stocky, and wore a camouflage hat as if she were in the Jungle. She wore a hardened look about her face, and when she spoke, I could see the fire of came from the entertainment industry, some were illegally owned, and some needed a good, permanent home. None of our animals can ever be released back into the wild because they are too used to people, and they would not survive on their own. Serenity Saling, another volunteer, lead me through the sanctuary on a guided tour. “Almost all of our food is donated by Wal-Mart,” she explained while strolling through the “carnivore area. “We are non-profit, so we rely on donations. The cats alone go through 170 pounds of [raw] meat a day – in the summer; they eat more in the winter. ” Eleven tigers, six servals, five bobcats, two black leopards, two mountain lions, one Canadian lynx, and one African lion need to eat five days a week. Luckily, feeding time is only once a day – convenient for everyone concerned.
The majority of the animals do eat raw meat, including alligators, New Guinea singing dogs, and a red fox. The carnivorous reptiles mostly eat defrosted rodents; whereas, the other carnivores will eat pork chops, steak, or chicken. Most of the other nimals are herbivores and feed on leafy greens and fruits. Some animals even consume dry cat food. Copious time and patience is necessary to feed all of the animals, considering their varied diets. Volunteers must arrive at the sanctuary by eight o’clock a. m. Business hours dont begin until ten o’clock a. m. and on a day when Forever Wild is fully staffed, the volunteers can barely hope to conclude feeding, watering, and cleaning every animal before opening. “Realistically, it takes six people to get everything done each day, but right now we’re lucky if we have two,” sighed Chemaine, forty-two-year-old owner and ounder of Forever Wild. “There’s Just so much that needs to be done and it doesnt happen. We need one person doing ‘barn,’ one person doing the ‘small animals’ outside, one doing the small animals inside, two people doing the cats, and one person cleaning the lobby. Evidently, volunteering is not easy. There are some loosely enforced prerequisites. Chemaine prefers her volunteers to attend college, working toward a career with animals. Volunteers assist her in caring for her animals, and she returns the favor with hands on experience that is required for some college courses. Also, any of the volunteers have quit after their first week and even first day at Forever Wild because they can’t handle the physical demand. The “Job” requires a great deal of manual labor that most girls wouldn’t be able to deal with, and Chemaine almost always hires females.
Chemaine began saving animals in order to keep them from unnecessary euthanasia. “These are wild animals,” Chemaine reasoned, “not pets, and they werent meant to be displayed and trained to do tricks. Just because an animal can’t ‘perform,’ that doesn’t mean that it has to die. ” Many of the tigers under her care at he sanctuary came from the entertainment industry, and they either became crippled because of the lives they were forced to lead, or they simply came to be too old to entertain anymore.
Chemaine believes each animal should be able to live its own life to the fullest extent without it being cut short because someone or something else decided its fate for it. Even while living at the sanctuary, animals still die. But, the purpose in bringing the rescued animals to the sanctuary isn’t to stop death. Chemaine sincerely wishes live past their normal life expectancies, then the owners and volunteers are ecstatic hey have impacted these animals lives positively. Nonetheless, residing at the sanctuary doesn’t come without cost.
In order to visit Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary, one must pay to observe the wildlife. For a “general tour,” there are three different prices: $4 for children, ages three to twelve, $8 for adults, ages thirteen to forty-nine, and $6 for seniors, ages fifty and up. The cost to run the sanctuary for one month is in the vicinity of $10,000. So, being a non-profit organization and saving the animals from being displayed for human amusement, a mandatory donation is necessary for the privilege of viewing the animals. I believe charging admission and putting the animals on display constitutes a zoo and not a sanctuary.
I dont wholly agree with what Joel and Chemaine do, but I do understand it. The Almquists endeavor to rescue every animal in need that stalks into their life. Sometimes, there are obstacles preventing rescues from transpiring: shortage of funds, lack of materials, or poor planning. Chemaine accepts that to be a fact, though, and knows there are arkloads of animals in the world that she cannot save. “l am blessed to be able to save the ones that I can,” Chemaine interjected. “l wish I could take them all in, but it’s not possible.
As my sandals crunched on the white, pea-sized gravel on the way to my car, I considered all that I had learned about Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary and the Almquist famliy: there are over two hundred animals in the sanctuary; they were rescued from illegal ownership, the entertainment industry, or needed a permanent home; massive amounts of time and money is necessary to run the sanctuary; and the Almquists chose to shoulder all of this responsibility solely for the sake of doing it. I admired them and what they were doing for the animals. Nevertheless, I dreaded the drive back down the neglected, dirt road.