As mentioned in my last post I joined the lovely people of The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals for their visit to Critter Care earlier this month. Critter Care is the only shelter in the Lower Mainland devoted exclusively to fur-bearing animals and so seems to be a natural partner for the Fur-Bearer Defenders. Luckily they wanted some decent images of the animals to promote their fund-raising for Critter Care so this is where I came in.
The shelter is, not surprisingly, a shelter. While they keep their cages as close to a natural environment as possible their room and resources are very limited and they have a lot of animals to take care of. While all the animals are well-loved and -cared for, the logistics make it very hard to take ‘wild’ looking images of the animals. It might be possible if I were to spend long stretches of time with the animals and make them comfortable with my presence, as I tend to when photographing in the wild. But this of course runs contrary to the idea behind the shelter. They want to rear animals that can be released into the wild and will not end up in people’s backyards after a week, because they are too comfortable around humans which is the reason they try minimize contact with different humans. There was nothing to do but to compromise my photography in the interest of the animals (which I was happy to do of course, wildlife photography should be about the animals, not the photographer’s ego). To make matters even more challenging, however, a lot of the animals were so small they were not yet released to their outside cages but fed inside the main office. As a result I decided to focus on images of human-animal interaction, since I felt that these would be the best images I could get in the limited time I had.
Whatever the photographic possibilities and challenges, however, seeing baby animals is good for the heart; it is nowhere as good as seeing a wild animal (I am still a wildlife photographer with all my heart – more on that in the next post), but, hey, a baby otter peed on my sweater and I pride myself that there are not many people who have had that experience – not even among wildlife photographers.
Below is a slideshow of some of the better images from Critter Care. A few might end up in the Fur-Bearer Defenders’ next newsletter if they like them (I am meeting executive director Lesley Fox later today), so keep your eyes open if you are a member, if not become one NOW :). Quite obviously all photos are of ‘captive’ animals.