Week two flew by just as fast as week one did. This week felt more like I was getting into the groove of having my own tasks and responsibilities rather than learning day-to-day tasks. I also have been learning more technical skills and new technology. I flew a drone this week, above a facility with lions and tigers and cougars and such. Thats something not a lot of people can say!

I am also learning more each week about the educational pillars that the sanctuary holds so highly. Saying no to cub petting, understanding the captive wildlife crisis, and learning the importance of advocating against hybrid cats are all topics of importance that I often write about for our social media page. It’s been so eye opening to see first hand the treatment that these apex predators are subjected to before coming to the sanctuary. The world of cub petting is one of the most jarring to me because the innocence of a young animal is so inviting to humans but has such a dark operation hidden behind the cuddly facade.

When we say “Say NO to cub petting”, seriously, say no. Or you are feeding in to the exploitation of wild animals that are often abused, neglected, or worse after they are deemed too old to be part of the cub petting operation.

The captive wildlife crisis is something that is also almost hard to wrap your head around if you aren’t a part of this world. Tigers are actually overpopulated in captivity, yet endangered in the wild. It’s a really sad statistic that proves humans have let greed and personal desire fuel an industry to that point. Hybrid cats, or the cross breeding of wild cats with domestic cats, is a similar industry. Breeders know the risks and behaviors of the cats they are selling for WAY too much money, but greed and uneducated buyers creates the perfect storm for this industry to continue as well.

Outside of work, life has been going just as fast. The little pod of people I surround myself with at the intern house is one that is only boosting the experience. I want to say it was luck, but I don’t really believe in luck. We have had more and more time to bond, learn about each other, and be comfortable to rely on one another for anything we need. For the first time since getting here, we were able to all sit down and enjoy a meal. Together. As the hodge-podge family that we are. We were missing one house member but we of course saved her some for later!

This week also marked the furthest north I have ever traveled (thus far). I made the jaunt up to the north shore in Duluth and the past there to Split Rock lighthouse. If you are ever in Duluth, walk around Canal Park, grab a smoked salmon sandwich, make the trip out of town to Betty’s Pies, and then skip rocks on the pebble beaches of Lake Superior. If you don’t get wind burnt on your cheeks ever so slightly, you weren’t there long enough.

Looking back on what I have learned about myself and how I interact with people, I realized those lessons have been the best lessons so far. I made my mind up to go into this internship like a sponge. Having no preconceived notions about how I would do this or that. Soaking in every piece of information as if I was so deprived of knowledge I could know nothing else. I believe that’s why I was able to learn so quickly and adapt to the work environment. Same with the intern house. I had no preconceived notion about anyone, or any of the rules. This mindset has allowed for me to soak in the moment and make everything that much better.

The mantra at the beginning of this experience was that it would be an adventure. As I have watched the past 15 days fly by my eyes, I realized my mantra should be something different.

Don’t count the minutes, make the minutes count.

These next weeks are going to go by so fast, but then again, who’s counting?