What do veterinary staff get up to in their spare time? On this particular Sunday morning, when most people would have been enjoying a well-earned lie-in, we went to visit Mayfield Alpacas Animal Park to give one of their Meerkats an injection. And we jumped at the chance! Four of us bundled into the little Saxo, full of excitement, and off we went.
I don’t know if any of you have ever visited, but we had a great time! Of course, we were there to do a job and so we started at the Meerkat enclosure. The hardest part seemed to be identifying the right Meerkat, although Park Managers Keeley and Andy seemed to have a pretty good idea who was who. He put up a good fight, and moved like lightening, but the little Meerkat was no match for a towel and a pair of heavy duty gardening gloves. Before long he was comfortably restrained and it was time for Athina to step in and do her bit. She gave him the jab and within a matter of seconds he was released back to his family. He looked relieved but none too worse for wear.
So job done. With that out of the way, we could get down to the really important business of exploring the farm and meeting the diverse residents. After negotiating our way around a pile of Christmas trees (enrichment for the residents, visit the Mayfield Alpacas facebook page to see them in action) we were introduced to animals that I’ve never even heard of before! Some of them weren’t on public view yet, such as the Raccoon Dog, Coatis and Skunks and so we felt privileged to be able to meet them. The Skunks were a particular favourite and you can see how chuffed Siân was to be able to give one a cuddle.
After having a tour of the barn, we were given bags of animal feed and released out onto the farm. We fed Reindeer, Goats, Alpacas and an inquisitive Rhea who seemed more interested in a shiny bunch of keys than the food we had to offer! Apparently her robbing tendencies were something to watch out for. The striking Golden Pheasant was something to behold, as was Horace the Turkey in all his glory. The Llama family (mum, dad and baby) had just been fed and so weren’t interesting in our measly offering (the Alpacas next door had near enough cleaned us out) but we got to admire them from a distance. I’m told that is the best way to see a Llama, as you are out of range of spitting. And of course there were the ever charming Shetland ponies who trotted over for a fuss.
All in all we had a great morning. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and would wholeheartedly recommend a visit if anyone has half a chance. We are eagerly awaiting our next call out!