Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Making Progress...and Helping Out

Martine Colette, Wildlife Waystation

(California wildfires light the hillsides of the Tujunga area of Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 . (AP Photo/John Lazar))

This photo of fire is the scene I saw on the drive home from work night before last that I made reference to in a post the day before yesterday. The new front of the fire is the Big and Little Tujunga canyon areas of Los Angeles. This front is at the opposite end of the fire from us, at a distance of about 40 miles.

Yesterday brought the on-shore breezes and higher humidity being attributed to Hurricane Jimena, approaching Cabo San Lucas, but the temperature was high 90s, low 100s, and although the fires still burn, the reports put containment of the Station Fire (nearest us) at 22%. We are fine and not in any danger at all. Thanks for the concern and good wishes. It really made us realize how connected we all really are.

As the city was completely enveloped in a cloud cover and a smoke shroud yeserday, I only saw a couple huge flareups on the distant mountains above Acton. Although Action is only about 16 miles from us, the amount of smoke coming our way this past couple days made it seems as though the fire were just over the next ridge; it's actually farther than 16 miles because it's up and down the mountain ridges that surround Action, although it did progress down the mountain sufficiently to warrant evacuation of much of the rural Acton community.

The big news today was the trouble The Wildlife Waystation was having finding enough cages to take out the bigger animals, as flames tore down Tujunga Canyon. As an alternative, firefighters set risky backfires to push the flames away from the WW, and it worked. As of this morning (9/2), all the animals left at the sanctuary are safe.

Wildlife Waystation (WW) houses about 400 animals, many of them disabled, and is a place I was introduced to over 15 years ago by singer Dusty Springfield, a friend. The WW was one of her favorite causes and chosen non-profit charities, but she didn't give only money. Often, she would visit and pitch in and help around the grounds whenever she could. There's always work to be done in place like WW.

The woman who started the WW is Martine Colette, a real scrapper of a Frenchwoman who has devoted her entire life to saving a variety of large animals (mostly), many of whom started out as pets by people too stupid to realize these animals get big and need a lifetime of care and protection once they are in any kind of captivity.

Today, two chimps got loose on their way to their evacuation headquarters at the LA Zoo. One headed for the small primate and bird sanctuary of the zoo (Whohoo, look at me!), and was tranquillized by dart gun within 20 minutes. The other chimp was on the lam for nearly an hour, but was eventually found and finally coaxed into her cage by her trainer. Griffith Park had to be closed while authorities hunted for the runaway. Truth is, the evacuations have completely traumatized the animals, and these kids aren't easy to move under any circumstances.

But in a cruel twist of irony, the day before the fires started, the Wildlife Waystation put out a press release about a different kind of emergency. It's out of money, due largely to having to close the facility to the public over a year ago as it was unable to meet certain LA County requirements. Evidently it takes about $5000 per day to feed all the animals and provide them with veterinary oversight. Anyway, like so many of the animal rescue and/or sanctuary operations that begin as someone's labor of love, the daily coin of the realm is always so much more than expected. Anyway, you might want to take a look at their website, and pass this story on to anyone else who might be able to lend a hand to the Wildlife Waystation.

In every fire and natural disaster, it's the faces of the vulnerable and helpless, people and animals, that strike a chord within us.


azteclady said...

Thank God you guys are alright!

I'm so sorry about the WW and the animals; thank you for letting us know.

Keep safe.

T.T. Thomas said...

Thanks A-Lady---looks like we're in the clear now!

azteclady said...


T.T. Thomas said...

WOW, what a lovely write-up! Just got home after a long day slogging through heavy traffic and even heavier smoke, so this was a wonderful surprise. Thank you AztecLady---you're the cat's meow and the rascal chimp's grin!