People are funny. Funny like a clown. And who isn’t terrified of clowns now? Stephen King did for clowns what Anne Rice did for vampires. Except that Stephen King took a fairly innocuous childhood staple and transformed it into the stuff of nightmares while Anne Rice took a monster and made it sexy. Writers are funny like that. Some people a little closer to home have been engaging in hijinks of a less literary variety.
I may have mentioned (a million times) that I like to walk the beaches on Manasota Key. I was lucky enough to have some time off over the 4th of July holiday and spent that time roaming the beach. It was there I saw one of the strangest things. No, not one of those hirsute Europeans in a speedo—that has gotten so common it is no longer noteworthy. About half way between Englewood Beach and Stump Pass Park there were four dining room chairs on the beach with a piece of string linking them, forming a rectangle approximately 6 by 8 feet. A couple pieces of notebook paper completed this architectural phenomenon with a hand-scrawled warning that the premises were property of the “Smith Party.” I can only suppose that the Smiths normally vacation on Coney Island or some equally crowded locale because other than the forlornly lonely furniture, the beach was pretty much vacant. I know later that evening folks were expected to gather on the beach to watch the fireworks, but seriously? It’s Englewood. It never gets so crowded you need to stake a claim. Leave the big city attitude at home, it is decidedly unsuited here. It looks like you are wearing your clown shoes instead of flip flops.
Peace River Wildlife Center has seen its share of people doing “funny” things lately too. We had a nestling mockingbird coated in canned dog food. The people who found it were trying to feed it, but got more food on the bird than in it. We also got a juvenile great horned owl that had apparently been raised by other rehabbers that were not careful enough to not habituate it. It was released but for two weeks kept flying down to people in the neighborhood begging to be fed. Someone captured it and brought it to us and now Callie, our Operations Manager, is working with this bird to train it to the glove and it will hopefully be a new exhibition bird for us.
This week we also got a few frantic calls about a crane that had hit a power line and knocked out the electricity from Port Charlotte to North Port. Everyone was concerned with the fate of the crane and whether it had been brought to us. Unfortunately, the crane was not brought to us, but there was probably not much we could have done for it anyway. The crane in question was construction equipment, and hence a little out of our league. We have heard it is recovering from the incident and mechanical engineers expect that it will be released soon. I would advise cautious attention when passing construction sites, though. If you see a vampire clown operating a crane, steer clear.
-by Robin Jenkins, DVM