This Week at Liberty December 12, 2011

Hoots, Howls, and Hollers

The other day my friend Brooke brought in a Canada goose that she had rescued from a school’s batting cage.  Among other things at Liberty Wildlife Brooke has been a long-time rescue and transport volunteer.  In reality she has a list of accomplishments way beyond that.  She’s an author, an adventurer, and an advocate for all things “nature.” You can follow her and her passions about all sorts of issues and items at

For many reasons I always enjoy comparing notes with Brooke, but one main one is that we both relish learning, observing, and promoting the less than charismatic creatures on the planet.  While I was reading about the ants that banded together for the safety of the whole, she was observing firsthand the natural history of ants at her father’s ranch.  We traveled to Africa together many years ago and mutually marveled at the minutia as well as the magnificent.

On this visit she introduced me to the wetapunga, an endangered species.  Now if you are at all squeamish or insect phobic you might want to stop reading now.  If, on the other hand, you are fascinated by all things different and wild…and in need of help…keep reading.

A cricket-like creature, the wetapunga is one of the biggest insects in the world and is currently being reintroduced on Little Barrier Island, New Zealand.  A female giant weta can cover your hand, measuring up to 8 inches in length and weighing as much as 70 grams when full of eggs….and for comparison,  that is bigger than a sparrow.  Now that is a bug to brag about!  Wetapunga are vegetarians although others of the species, about 70 in number, are omnivorous.  The wetapunga or giant weta live in the forests feeding on lichen, leaves, flowers, seed heads and fruit.

They, like many other creatures, were perfectly happy in New Zealand without any mammals to compete with.  Then along came humans and introduced cats, rats, and other somewhat destructive mammals who have wreaked havoc ever since with many of the island native species that have not evolved to deal with mammal predation and habitat destruction.  The wetapunga was a munchy treat, especially to rats.  Their unfortunate size and appearance might have also added to their demise.  Personally, I thought they looked sweet with their big brown eyes while gently gnawing rabbit-like on a carrot.

Now they are pretty much limited to the reintroduced individuals on a few of the islands around New Zealand like Somes and Little Barrier.  That is all I am going to tell you about this adorable little creature. It is my hope that you will be so intrigued that you, too, will go to the internet and do a little research.  If you do, you will find out among other things about Island Gigantism and Island Dwarfism….it can all be very addictive!  Enjoy!

This Week at Liberty

Posted by Terry Stevens

The intake total for the year is now at 3294.

Sometimes animals pass through the facility in a few days (even hours on occasion), and sometimes it takes longer. Some volunteers stay a short time, and some stay here for – years!  Some animals are able to adapt to natural adversity in surprising ways, until things gang up on them. A couple of cases this week in the update…

Carl and friend (Photo by Carol Suits)

This little piggy came to Liberty... (Photo by Carol Suits)

Carl brought in a baby collared peccary (havelina) last week.  The mother had been killed and the little girl was an orphan who couldn’t possibly live by herself. She only spent a few hours at Liberty before moving on to SW Wildlife to be with others of her species. Carl is “da man”!!!


Beautiful prairie falcon

Beautiful prairie falcon

Extremely fine sutures

A really pretty prairie falcon came in last week from north of town. The bird had been rescued and dropped at the Animal Health Services facility in Carefree where Liberty gets some X-ray work done sometimes.  The emergency staff there saw that the bird had some obvious tissue damage to one wing and they not only X-rayed her, they anesthetized her and put in several extremely fine sutures along with a very elaborate and accurate report as to the bird’s condition and treatment. Thank you, AHS – nice job!!


Jan and Joanie look concerned

Toba reapplies a splint

We are currently treating a nice large RTH with a wrist injury. Jan, Toba, and Joanie all got a hand in the exam and re-wrapping of the splint last week. More rest and observation are in order.


He'll have to grow lots of new feathers

Jan makes an ID band

Looking forward to a long haul

The GSW harris’ hawk is slowly improving, although he’s lost a lot of feather at the wound site. This is not uncommon when an injury of this type occurs. The injury is healing well and the bird can now go outside to a new enclosure. After an ID band is made and applied, he’ll join some other HaHas in a 30 ft flight cage (although flight won’t be possible for a few months) Here’ he’ll acclimate to the out doors and learn to adapt to the communal life style of the HH’s until his feathers grow back in over the next few months.


A local bird

Let me check this out...

OK, this will work

Another bird that got to go outside last week was this little screech owl. In from a rescue just west of our facility, he presented no overt injuries except periodically “playing dead,” a characteristic of this species. He was placed outside in our screech owl enclosure in hopes of a speedy release and after a quick inspection, decide that it was adequate for his use!


OK, what's wrong with this picture?

This handsome GHO is missing a foot!

A stalwart rescue person braved the cold and rain and brought this GHO in to the facility today. The most amazing thing is he is missing a foot, which didn’t seem to cause him too much of a problem as he weighed over 1100gr. The stump was completely healed and he seemed to be totally adapted to this limitation. His current problem is a shattered wrist which might change his future disposition but in any case, his demeanor seemed to indicate that he was ready for whatever life threw at him! Fingers crossed for this guy please! Even if he winds up being a foster parent, the gene pool would be better for him being present.


Happy Birthday, Anne!

OK, Anne Peyton had a birthday last week, and Claudia brought in a beautiful cake to celebrate. Liberty is a big family and every member is thought of highly. (The photo was just because I thought it was interesting seeing this gastronomic delight on the table with the hand-feed team’s work for the day…!)

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One Response to This Week at Liberty December 12, 2011

  1. Penny Schneck says:

    Happy Birthday, Anne!! (after the fact) Lovely cake, I’m sure it was scrumptious. Have a great year!

    I had no idea there was a cricket-like species that gets that big! I hope they can be protected and survive.

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