We’re always fond of campus animal action here, and we’ve covered furry felines from wonk cat and friends to library cats to a goose on the loose, goats and squirrels and the many and various beasts on one particular campus.
I was therefore intrigued to hear about some parakeet problems at one US university:
Last fall, employees in a Texas A&M University System office space were alerted that three parakeets had been placed in the building’s light-filled atrium, and that more were on the way.
They were to be greeted warmly: “The first word we would like to teach them is ‘HOWDY!'” an employee for Chancellor John Sharp wrote in an October 2018 email. “Please help them learn by addressing them this way when you see them.”
But — for at least a few days — the birds prompted a different reaction from some employees, who said in emails that their winged guests took to “flying around like crazy” and “don’t understand why we are chasing them.”
“Four birds landed on Cliff’s computer last night. Lona chased them out with a baby gate, while Wanda waved her hands like a crazy person so the bird would not fly down towards our area,” an employee wrote in an October 2018 email. “I hear 2 more birds will be arriving soon. Trying to hold it together over here… are we really spending time on birds?”
It didn’t end well.
Meanwhile at the University of Nottingham there were rather different challenges with the resident community of Canada geese deciding to march down a major campus road, holding up all traffic.
Geese having a gander down East Drive at University of Nottingham (Image: David Foster)
Then there is news about another campus cat, Moxie, who seems to be even more affectionate than most campus critters:
Moxie regularly jumps up onto the backpacks of passing humans, traversing campus on his two-legged chariots. He delights the school, but also disturbs it. Recently, for example, the fire department had to rescue the cat from a coffee shop’s roof. He likes to infiltrate classroom buildings, too; signs warning students not to let Moxie into the lecture halls abound. Every once in a while he enters Kenyon’s on-campus Episcopal church unannounced, in the middle of Reverend Rachel Kessler’s sermons.
But perhaps the best of all is this giant Elk called Elliott, again back at Texas A&M, who has joined the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Winnie Carter Wildlife Center.
Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences
Elliott’s journey to Texas A&M began when he was taken from the wild as a calf and raised by humans in Sweet, Idaho. Though he was released into the Bear Valley Campground area later by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, he continually approached hunters and refused to join an elk herd.
When it became apparent that Elliott would never develop normal wild elk behavior, Idaho Fish and Game decided that Elliott needed a “forever home” where he could safely be cared for by humans for the rest of his life.
“He already has quite the following (among the students),” Blue-McLendon said. “They all love him. Everyone can pet him through the fence.”
Once this rutting season is over, Blue-McLendon hopes that Elliott’s behavior will improve and he will become gentler around people. But no matter how his attitude turns out, Elliott will be cared for and loved at the Winnie Carter Wildlife Center for the rest of his life.
Animals really do add something a little bit different to university life. But US universities remain somewhat ahead of their UK counterparts when it comes to big beasts on campus.