a collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.
My first experience with chickens in 1976. I don't think I was too impressed.
This photo is of me at Grandma and Grandpa Dueringer's farm in Festus, Missouri, where they ranched Hereford cattle. The concrete pebble walkway led to the barn where all of the kitties would stay. I would sneak out in the early mornings to visit with the cats. Unfortunately, they usually had caught their morning rabbit and mouse prey. I learned at an early age that farm life was the wild nature in my own backyard.
Being overweight in the 1980s wasn't easy. The majority of kids were thin. Bullying was an everyday occurrence. I took this photo of my shoes on a school field trip while I visited the animals, away from the other kids.
This is my first guinea pig. I felt she was lonely while I was at school all day, so my parents purchased another from a pet shop. We didn't know that when we bought her, she was pregnant. This led to a boom of guinea pigs. At one time, we had thirteen.
My pet possum I rescued from the neighbors.
My pet possum after she got older. She wasn't fond of being outdoors at first and wanted more than nothing to go back inside to sleep in my bed.
After dinner, Mom and Dad would take us out for ice cream and a drive around the nature parks. One evening we were taunted to play with a wild raccoon. It was swinging on swings and being silly trying to get our attention.
We were fairly sure it was someone's pet, or a nature center rehabilitated raccoon that they had returned to the wild. It isn't natural for wild raccoons to be so friendly. We went back several times to visit with the raccoon, who seemed to stay near one shelter at the park. After a few weeks, the raccoon stopped visiting. We were all heartbroken to lose our time with our wild woodland friend.
Our family fostered a family of five baby raccoons whose mother had been killed by a car. The little raccoon pups required bottle feeding every couple of hours. After a few weeks, one got ill and passed away. As a family, we couldn't handle the sadness of losing any more, so we returned them to a wildlife sanctuary for someone to care for them that was more qualified. Some time passed, and we spotted a baby skunk on the side of the highway circling its deceased mother. We rescued it and promptly got sprayed, so once again, we returned to the nature center with another orphan. There was no way to raise and keep a skunk with scent glands.
We never got over how adorable the baby skunk was, so my parents took to searching. I took some time, but my parents coaxed a fur breeder to let one go from their facility as a pet—a rescue for us. The breeder vaccinated all their skunks and removed scent glands at an early age. As he got older, we convinced a local veterinarian to neuter him to curb his enthusiasm for his aggressive playful behavior around kids. Later, the veterinarian said he never thought, in his life, that he would neuter a skunk.
Our pet skunk was part of the family.
Mom, with a small armload of the morning wake up crew.
The ferrets were confined to the kitchen most of the day. Dad built a plexiglass gate that the ferrets couldn't climb over. We had to hang a doll on it to see it because we all kept crashing through the clear gate. I think Dad had to replace the gate five times from us walking through it.