Friday, May 18, 2007

Good Days, Bad Days and One Very Sad Day.

Please bear with me as this will be a rather long and sad post.

On the day before “Penguins’ Rock” opened at the Tennessee Aquarium, I posted a message on this blog about relationship building and watching the penguins. I told you how important observing their behavior is to make sure they are all staying happy and healthy. You see, in the animal world sickness or injury is a sign of weakness to predators. So an animal will try very hard to hide any health problems they may have. We use a critical eye to watch all of our animals and our volunteers help with this task. We have been paying very close attention to “Caesar,” one of the first four penguins to arrive here, for quite awhile now. At first he seemed as healthy as the other three macaroni penguins he was transported with. He seemed to enjoy his new surroundings just like the other penguins. But within a few days Caesar began exhibiting behavioral differences. He was not as energetic a swimmer as the other penguins, preferred to remain on his own, and wasn’t eating as much as the others. This caught our attention immediately. After consulting with other penguin experts within the SeaWorld network, a treatment plan was administered. For a period of time, Caesar bounced back and even began spending more time socializing with the other penguins. We also looked back at his health records and found that Caesar had shown signs of not feeding as well as his companions in the past, and he had some weight fluctuations. But Caesar always bounced back. Other Aquarium staffers would sometimes cheer Caesar on when he would snap up a fish with the other birds. We have had many good days with Caesar. This week however, his health began to turn. On Wednesday, our veterinarian drew blood and we learned that Caesar’s kidneys were failing. We tried so many treatments and worked very hard to help him get well again. After consulting with the other penguin experts in Pittsburgh and San Antonio again, we were told we had done all that we could do for Caesar, and no further treatment options were available. Caesar lost his fight with kidney failure today. This has been a very sad day for all of us. You see, we all pride ourselves on being professionals and giving all of our animals the highest level of care all of the time. But we also know when dealing with living things, the circle of life will eventually be complete. The thing that really helps today is seeing the smiles on the faces of everyone visiting. Our other 19 penguins are robust and healthy. They are still trying to eat us out of house and home, and still diving, splashing and hopping around as carefree as we would all like to be. There is a wonderful eye to eye connection that people make with these animals. And I’m thankful for the time I had to see eye to eye with Caesar.


cring171 said...

I would like to express my condolences towards the loss of Ceasar. Though I did not spend the time with him as you, it still brings a very heavy heart.
Courtney Ring

setmatchk said...

I too would like to express my condolences...I posted a question about Caesar (although I did not know his name at the time)on May 12 since I was told when I visited Penguin Rock for the first time that the little fellow with the red tag was under special observation for health reasons. He did indeed seem lethargic and a bit anti-social, and he has been on my mind ever since.

I watched as he was gently prodded to take the hand-fed fish that I have learned through this blog holds a special vitamin. The love and compassion from the caregivers for this little sick creature was evident even through the heavy glass that separates avid spectators from these very special animals.

I am so saddened to hear that Caesar finally lost his battle. I know his caregivers are especially grieved, but I hope they take comfort in the special love and care they gave him during his short stay here in Chattanooga.

dachsiemom said...

I am so sorry to hear about Caesar-I know you all did everything that you could and then nature takes over. How is his mate coping without him?

rwhite said...

I am so sadden to know that we have lost one of the original exhibition family. I am just glad that I was able to see the entire exhibit with all of the originals members. My condolences to all.

2much2handl said...

maybe it was time for cesaer to mate and he didn't know how to get out of your enclosure. they know when and where, which remains a mystery to man.grief is something even animals do. maybe he wanted to go home to his family from which he was removed by us, the enemy.first it was the circus then the zoo and now the big buck aquarium. if you all took in hurt animals and your mission was to put them back, it wouldn't be so bad. just to have animals to make a buck is wrong.maybe in the next life it will be humans captive. we were put on the earth to have dominion over the animals not to dominate them. i know you don't understand this, because of your job, and you can tell us so many reasons why it is good, but the bottom line is, people found a way to make money off the dislocated animals. if you wanna see penguins, go to antartica! don't capture them and remove them from their families for human enjoyment.i am probably in the minority with these statements, but these animals may as well be dead. they know they are dislocated and when it comes time for them to mate, i'll bet they will be sad. i hope they don't die at human expense and i hold all of you responsible all the way back to the awful person who captured them. see you in heaven, and look for me in the animal section.

Regina said...

We were there on May 16. All of us were mesmerized by your exhibit, but me in particular, found it hypnotizing; I absolutely loved it!

I'm devastated to learn you've lost one of your little guys, Ceasar. My condolences to all of you, the caregivers who take so much pride in what you do!

Regina Fugate