Mr Tummy

by Luke, in Peru
21st October, 2009
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Had a bit of explaining to do the other day. I’d got up with Noah for the normal 5.30am routine and as I carried him downstairs, he giggled, pointed to my stomach and said ‘baby’. Now this is hilarious when he points at my wife’s belly and says baby because she is pregnant and we’re trying to get him excited about the prospect of a little brother or sister, but this line of conversation with me wasn’t quite the plan. I had to turn things around fast – and rapidly pointed out that lions have big furry tummies like Daddy and no one makes fun of them. Noah thought this was hysterical and I’m not sure if he got the right message because Mr Tummy was subject of about 30mins intense early morning discussion and repeated probing. I was worried he might hurt his hand on the ridges of scarcely disguised muscle but he’s tough. I also managed to explain how seals and whales keep warm in the oceans. It was a morning of education. I didn’t take it personally but needless to say, I walked to work rather than drove. Noah needs to know just how tough Daddy is and a walk in driving rain definitely proves the point. Not even a lion would want to do that.

Been manic at work, got a chance to do some calls with Caroline (new vet at the practice) which was fun – trimmed a bulls feet, caesared a cow, all went well – she didn’t need me around but it was great to be out and about. Now sitting on the plane on what is hopefully the last couple of hours of a 21 hour three stage flight to Iquitos in Peru. Hats off to LAN – not a bad airline at all, still wishing economy was a couple of inches wider though (i.e. big enough to fit a lion).

Manatees Again!

by Nathan the Assistant Producer, in Peru
1st November, 2009
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The day of filming the manatees and I got to swim with them once the filming was all done. It was an absolutely brilliant experience and Marc (the producer), Annie (the other vet) and myself could have stayed in there all day. It has been a great trip and venturing down the amazon will stay with me for years to come.
 
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Trousers!

by Nathan the Assistant Producer, in Peru
21st October, 2009
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We’re in Peru and it is hot and humid. Bringing two pairs of trousers seems like a bad idea now… We’re visiting a charity called Amazon CARES and I’m looking forward to it as the trip looks to be quite action packed.

Bags to follow!

by Luke, in Peru
4th November, 2009
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We made it back – about 7 hours of delays and 29 hours of travel, but whose counting. Thankfully two of the eight bags also made it so that only leaves six to follow. Been a brilliant trip, met some great people who have set up some very worthwhile organisations and I look forward to keeping in touch with them and getting some plans in action! Two week breather and then off we go again… just time to get a big firework party organised for Noah!

Belen

by Luke, in Peru
22nd October, 2009
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Belen market takes some seeing to believe. It is a heaving chaotic scene of hustle and bustle and everything is available for purchase. Huge anaconda skins decorate some of the stalls, animal skins, potions are for sale adjacent to clothing and grocery stalls. It is a sprawling centre of commerce in Iquitos and bizarrely, above the meat market Amazon Cares were running a community outreach project. I’m really impressed with what Molly has set up here, she has a great team and they are doing a lot of good. A WVS team are also here which means I am just one vet of five so there is lots of work going on and everyone seems in top form. Spaying was the name of the game on the first day, a few sick animals which needed tx and a poor cat who had been bitten on the face and lost its eye. Carolien – one of the nurses, found the poor little creature and we fixed it up back at the Amazon Cares clinic in town.
 
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Simon is our new special friend for this trip. Marc is back but Adam is in India so another member of the extreme cameraman gang has been drafted in. Simon loves the fact I keep reminding him he is extreme at every possible opportunity (there really is an extreme cameraman club) – he has just had an extreme breakfast for example and feels extremely pleased about it. He is extremely nice and is definitely an extreme addition to the gang. The only other point of note is that Lupe is working hard on his Spanish (he has a Spanish girlfriend) so he’s currently dazzling us with the odd word in the local dialect. Almost as extreme as Simon.
 
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Nathan the boat

by Nathan the Assistant Producer, in Peru
23rd October, 2009
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We took a boat to Molly’s shelter today. And the boat was called Nathan. Probably the best name you could give to anything…
 
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Getting Extreme

by Luke, in Peru
23rd October, 2009
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Annie (one of the vets on the WVS team and worked for the charity last year) has stayed behind from the rest of the group to come with me and the film crew. There are apparently lots of animals lined up for us to treat in a community and I’m going to need an extra pair of hands. It’s great to work with Annie again and I’m glad of the back up it was looking like I would have been short of help with everyone else (including all the local team) having gone up river to run another neutering campaign.
 
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The day started with a very sad case of a sweet little puppy that was badly jaundiced. We think it has leptospirosis (a horrible disease that we vaccinate against in the UK and spread by rats) and the prognosis is poor. We popped it on fluids and started a course of medicines so fingers crossed it pulls through. It won’t be in the programme as it arrived first thing and needed treatment immediately but we’re all rooting for it.

Then the adventure began; Molly’s shelter is outside Iquitos in the midst of the rainforest. A half hour boat ride down the Amazon took us to a cluster of huts and buildings and a yard comprising about twenty dogs. All the dogs were happy, healthy and in great form and clearly adore Molly as they leapt and cavorted about us. A few dogs we rescued from the meat market the other day were also there, trying to adapt to their new surroundings and receiving the appropriate treatments. It’s a very honest set up – the whole place almost got washed away last year in torrential rain so has been rebuilt in stages with more sturdy construction.

There wasn’t much for me to do from a veterinary sense, one dog had bad eyes which I had some medication for, but the shelter animals look great and it was more about filming an introduction to the programme than about surgeries. After a thorough look around, we headed back to Iquitos to check up on the hospitalized animals at the shelters city clinic, went on a reccie for a shoot later in the programme and then back to base.

Simon had it extremely tough today. He couldn’t bring his second pair of extreme shoes with him on the trip out – they wouldn’t fit in the bag. I think to be part of the extreme camera man club; you need to always be prepared by having two pairs of shoes with you for any extreme situation. Simon even has a ticket on his bag saying he is an extreme cameraman – prepared and poised to film anything extreme at extreme short notice. He is adapting to these extreme conditions – where we all go around with just one pair of shoes each day – extremely well. He also didn’t get lunch today – extremely hardcore. We’re all struggling to be anywhere near as extreme as Simon but we’re doing our best. Fingres crossed none of us slow him down.

A Dream Come True

by Marc the Producer, in Peru
21st October, 2009
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This is a trip I was especially looking forward to. Since I was a kid I’ve dreamed of travelling deep into the Amazonian rainforest. After a 24 hour trip we finally arrived in Iquitos, an island of civilisation in this ocean of lush trees. You never know what to expect on these trips, but I am somehow not worried at all and my gut tells me we will find loads of stories here.

Luke is fired up as it’s the first time we are planning to include a group of vets from WVS that arrived here a few days ago.

Nathan needs shorts!

Another shoot without Adam. Scottie couldn’t make it ether. The new crew member is Simon. Considering the short amount of time we have spent together so far everyone gets on like a house on fire.

Let’s get cracking!

Manatees

by Nathan the Assistant Producer, in Peru
23rd October, 2009
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We visited a manatee rescue centre today to recce for a shoot we are going to do later in the week. It is an absolutely wonderful place and I’m glad we are going to be filming there. The highlight of the visit for me had to be bottle feeding a juvenile manatee. They are such remarkable creatures – think underwater elephants – and seeing them this close up is extremely rare as they are sadly on the verge of becoming extinct.

Teamwork

by Marc the Producer, in Peru
24th October, 2009
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From a producer’s or director’s point of view, it’s great to have a team that you can leave filming on their own and I don’t have to worry about them missing something that is essential to cover a story. We are planning to go on a kind of house-boat tomorrow to travel up the Amazon deeper into the rainforest to help some isolated communities with their animal problems. But today I found out that the boat company didn’t receive the money that we transferred to its parent company in the USA quite a while ago. We desperately needed to stock up food and petrol, so I stayed behind to sort this out while the rest of the crew visited an animal orphanage run by Gudrun, a German ex-pat.

I had to resort to our cash-float for now to get the boat ready for tomorrow’s departure and will have to sort out the money issue once we are back. The crew did a fantastic job out at Gudrun’s animal orphanage and while Nathan took over as producer/director everyone chipped in and it sounds like they covered some great stories.