Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Victims of Greed-2

Jean first brushed them with mayonnaise, which softens and bonds with the oil, greatly shortening the cleaning process. They were stood in a pool of soapy water as they were slowly rinsed with handfuls of wash water. The cleaning was then continued with Jean washing them with Dawn dish detergent and I shuttled buckets of warm water. Each owl went through sixteen washes and rinses. To rinse them, they would even allow us to submerge them under water clear up to their faces with total trust and lack of resistance or struggling.

It looks bedraggled, but just because it's wet.  The white
feathers in the wings and tail are now visible.  Its condition
was to greatly improve.
The amount of crude oil removed from them was both amazing and sadly disturbing. With most of the oil removed, we began to see that they had sustained multiple scrape injuries each to their beaks, faces, legs, and wings. These undoubtedly were sustained while beating at the rim of the tank in an effort to pull themselves over the edge to escape.  Once the cleaning was done, they were put in a large bird cage with a heat lamp to keep them warm while they dried.

Jean tried a number of foods to induce them to eat and start moving the oil they had ingested through their systems---beef cubes and steak cutlets sliced in thin ribbons, chopped-up chicken legs, and chicken livers and gizzards. The first owl never responded to any enticement, and lasted until noon the next day, the 24th. It’s body was given back to the game warden to hold as evidence in the criminal investigation.

By evening of the 25th, it had stopped eating, and by midday of
the 26th, it had to brace itself in the corner to keep on its feet.
We were heartened by the second owl. It began to walk, stand erect, even perching on a section of tree limb placed in the cage, and began to eat well and drink large amounts of water and chicken juice. It would take strips of meat from tongs at first, and then ate from a saucer left in the cage during the night. We nearly celebrated when it began to void its intestines, feeling that such a good sign surely meant that it was clearing its system and doing well. By the evening of the second day, the 25th, however, it stopped eating in the evening. We weren’t immediately alarmed, thinking it would eat during the night as it had the night before.

During the morning of the 26th, it seemed sluggish and hadn’t eaten. It took no more food, but it did take water, during the day. We checked on it frequently during the day. I looked in on it at 5:30 to see it slouching in the bottom of the cage. It looked at me and staggered, beginning to fall, but caught itself and stayed on its feet. It went into the corner of the cage and put its head in the corner, leaning there to stay on its feet as its wings began to droop more and more. Minutes later, it turned and looked at me for several seconds, drool hanging uncontrollably from its mouth, and rolled over onto its side. Its breathing was rapid and shallow, and then lapsed into shallow panting, and by a little after 6 pm, it also was gone. The amount of organ damage and poisoning had obviously been too much for it to overcome, and in death it voided a substantial pool of black oily liquid.

The heart-breaking end---hunched, wings drooping, having lost
control of its own body, drool hanging from its beak.  It turned and
gave me a haunting and pleading look for some seconds before
rolling onto its side and expiring.

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