There were 6 large goslings with their mom in one of the large outdoor aviary enclosures. The mama goose was doing such a good job protecting her babies, hissing at the human intruders and herding babies away, despite being and having an eye infection. Staff member “C” invited me to help her with goslings so their feet could be cleaned and treated for an infection.
Mama goose was covered in a blanket and held gently but firmly by an intern as C treated her with ointment for her cloudy eye, tube-fed, and her feet cleaned with antiseptic. We kept her head gently covered as we caught each one of her babies. Can you imaging how awful it would be for her to be restrained and watch as humans catch her babies. So she remained calm under the blanket as the intern demonstrated catching a big gosling.
They still look like chicks with yellow fuzzy feathers, but they are now much larger – about the size of a duck or pigeon. The intern made it looks easy. When it came to my turn, I chased them into a corner of the wooden enclosure, but these little ones are fast and wily when they want to be! I lucked out with my first one – caught it fairly quickly. When catching a goose or bird that size, the idea is to gently and firmly catch and hold them like a football, one hand on each side of their wings, holding their wings to their body and leaving their chest, head, and feet free. The other 4 I caught using a bed sheet to throw over their heads. That would have been easier in a smaller space, but this was like herding a small herd of terrified creatures who could run in any direction to get away.
In any case, I caught each of them, and they had their feet cleaned and treated. I put each one in a kennel cab when they were done, until all had been treated. By then I was covered in baby goose poop – I’m pretty sure that every single one of them pooped on me as I was holding it for treatment.
The mama goose was released from under her bedsheet and babies were let out the kennel cab to join mum. Later that night I cut up lettuce for them. Wow, do they get excited and forget some of their shyness when there are greens! One of the babies willingly came almost right beside me to get at the greens as I was emptying a big salad bowl of lettuce for them. Maybe I can use greens to help me catch them more easily in the future.