Art of Conservation welcomes Dr. Lucy, MGVP’s regional veterinary manager and WildlifeDirect’s Gorilla Doctors, to this weeks classes.
Lesson Where Art Tells a Story is the theme for students to consider as they listen to Dr. Lucy share the story of Nzeli, a female mountain gorilla in Bwenge Group in the Karisoke Habitat.
Our students receive the worksheet pictured below for illustrating a beginning, a middle, and an end to this real life action that takes place in the nearby forest,
Parc National des Volcans.
Worksheet. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Let’s take a look at the BEGINNING of our story with the help of class volunteers. Valerie, with her ever-expanding knowledge of veterinarian terms, interprets for Lucy.
Shingiro’s adult class.
Nzeli, an adult female gorilla, is being pursued by two male gorillas – Bwenge, an old silver back of Bwenge Group and Twizere, a lone silver back. The males flank Nzeli and pull her arms and legs resulting in serious injuries to her foot and hand.
Saturday’s kids class.
After receiving a call from the forest from ORTPN staff, Dr. Lucy knows she must check on Nzeli and possibly intervene as the reports are suggesting the female gorilla is severely injured.
Sunday’s kids class.
Lots of giggling here from students and volunteers as two boys pretend to fight over the young girl seated and acting to be Nzeli. The other volunteers pictured above act as members of Bwenge Group and won’t enter into the ensuing romantic entanglement.
Below, student’s illustrations of the story’s BEGINNING.
Moving now to the MIDDLE of our story, Dr. Lucy asks for volunteers to pose as trees. Using the dense vegetation as her cover, she pretends to prepare the blow gun she would normally use to administer antibiotics to her patients. The vets would never let any of the gorillas discover what is about to happen…a syringe, frequently referred to as a ‘flying dart’ is filled with antibiotics and is placed inside a 54 inch-long tube which then attaches to a blow gun. When triggered, the gun, with an oxygenated cartridge, propels the flying dart and hopefully hits the patient in the correct place – all occurring without any gorilla taking notice.
Posing as trees in the forest, volunteers shield Nzeli’s view of Dr. Lucy who will clandestinely prepare her flying dart and blow gun.
When first asked how veterinarians give medicine to a wild gorilla in the forest, some guesses included the vet giving an ill gorilla a banana with the medicine hidden in the fruit. Not a bad idea, but we soon learn it’s not that easy.
I think our students developed a better understanding of how wild gorillas are given medicine when the veterinarians believe it is necessary. The pictures below show the vet in a distance and not right next to their patient.
Again, volunteers posing as trees.
Dr. Lucy in action!
Intending for the flying dart to hit Nzeli’s upper thigh, Dr. Lucy holds the empty syringe near our actresses leg.
THE (happy) END. Nzeli recovers from her injuries with the help of antibiotics and – just as my dad who was a MD often prescribed to aid many ailments, ‘Get it out in the sun!’
Let the art begin!
Thanks to Dr. Lucy and all of our guests who graciously take time to visit Art of Conservation classes and speak with our students. Through discussion and art lessons, we all gain a better understanding of what it entails to care for wild animals, forests, and people. Perhaps budding artists and / or veterinarians are blossoming as we speak.
Until next time,