She worked her rear end off between the internship and the job at the park, but she loved every minute of time spent at either place. The State Park story collection grew. The cool things she got to do at the wildlife rehab were relayed to DH and I nearly every evening when she arrived home. The number and kinds of wild animals she got to care for, even though this particular rehab only accepts small animals (and a few fawns that go on to a different rehab center once they are past the bottle feeding stage) surprised me.
One particular animal brought in soon after she began her internship was a baby mink. Now, we've seen a few mink in our rural neighborhood at this little place here, but overall they are few and far between. We've never seen one closer than about 10 yards while sitting it a tree stand deer hunting, or about 5 yards while driving down the road in a car. We've never seen a baby mink. To be able to not just see this very young mink, but also to hold it and bottle feed it really was a high point of DD2's summer.
Mink have a reputation for being vicious, and they truly are. Except, apparently, in the instance of orphaned or injured young mink who wind up in wildlife rehab centers and occasionally bond with a particular human caretaker. Can you guess who this little mink decided was it's new mother?
If you said DD2, you're correct. As it grew, it rejected (and bit) all the other workers at the wildlife rehab. But when DD2 was on duty, not only could she feed it and clean it's cage (and then when it needed more space to run and play it's own little room) without getting bitten, it would try to engage her in play much like a puppy or kitten.
The summer went on, the mink developed into a healthy juvenile mink that learned to eat mice and fish for it's own supper (minnows in a wading pool), and DD2's internship drew to an end. Right about the time for her to be done, the mink was matured to the point of being ready for release back into the wild.
The wildlife director decided that DD2 should definitely be present for the big release day. So plans were made to release the mink on DD2's next to last day of her internship. Travel about an hour away to a good safe habitat for the mink would be required, but first all the other animals at the rehab would have to be fed and cared for. DD2 invited me to go along and help out with 'breakfast' for the animals that day so that hopefully things would go faster (also because she needed to be to work at the State Park that afternoon and would be driving separately from the wildlife director).
So, I got to cut up fruit for cedar waxwings, foxes, and baby skunks! I also got a tour of the wildlife rehab center while helping DD2 to deliver food to each type of bird and mammal there. I took lots of pictures and even got to pet squirrels, foxes, skunks, fawns, and that mink (who apparently doesn't bite people if DD2 is holding him at the time). It was very cool.
Would you pet these babies?
Hungry little skunks.
"I'm hungry too!"
Grey fox kit not waiting her turn.
"Got some food for me?"
"Just leave ours in the corner and go."
Juvenile red foxes did not want people in their space.
Mink looking for fish.
"Did somebody say breakfast?"
I think I'd like to live here, how about you?
Releasing the mink into the wild is something I will never forget (nor will DD2, I'm sure!). We stayed quite a while watching as he ventured out exploring and then returned to DD2 to check in and see if it was safe.
Not quite ready to let go.
What is this strange new place?
Found a big rock.
Still looking to DD2 for security.
Each time the mink went out a little further and further from DD2, until finally we slipped away while he was distracted cavorting in some weeds at the edge of the river that ran through his new home.