Wondrous Wildlife
By Vern and Lori Gieger
Osito’s Story

     My name is Osito. It means “little bear” in Spanish. I am an eight-month-old raccoon, whom you may have met at the Chili-Cook off in February. I was born in Colima where my real mom took care of me. I always felt happy, safe, and secure. Then one day, I am not sure what happened, there were strange noises and mom was scared. I remember being lifted in the air and put in a bag. The next thing I knew I was with strange-looking creatures that walked upright on two legs. And, they didn’t look anything like me. I was frightened.
     I later found out that they were called humans. They were nice to me, but I missed my mom, her delicious warm milk, her soft tummy and her gentle kisses as she washed me after I nursed. I vividly remember how she smelled like the forest itself, as I snuggled up to her for my nap. She was in my dream and I cried, not knowing if I would ever see her again.
     Sometime later someone put me in a dark box. The noise, smell and vibrations of whatever I was in made me feel a little sick. I was so frightened, I peed in my box; I sure wished I was with my mom. Where was she? After a while a human took me out of that dark wet box, held me close and gave me some milk to drink. It was ok, but it sure wasn’t my mom’s. They talked to me and told me how cute I was and put me in a soft bed and I soon fell asleep.
     These humans I now felt were my new mom and dad. They gave me a lot of attention, and fed me strange new foods; some were very yummy! I knew my new parents were not going to hurt me, and I trusted them. This noisy place, so unlike my peaceful forest, I now lived in was called Guadalajara. I saw big metal things with round black feet; they moved fast and made an awful noise. The air smelled strange too, not fresh like my forests. Everyday was a new adventure, with many things to explore and much to learn. Sometimes I would ask my best friend, Mr. Teddy Bear, questions. He never says much, so I had to figure things out for myself; like what a dog is and how to open a jar of honey.
I am growing fast now and my cage growing smaller. Maybe I’ll get a bigger cage soon. Mom and Dad told me that I am going to live with new humans, and they will be my new mom and dad. They seem nice. I don’t know them so I am a little scared. Thank goodness, Mr. Teddy Bear is with me, I think everything will be ok.
     Mr. Teddy Bear and I have moved into our new cage. Wow, is it ever big! I have a tire swing to play on, and my bed fits me and Mr. Teddy Bear. We think we’re going to like it here. The dinner menu has changed, my new mom and dad say chocolate is not good for me, and I can’t have it anymore. Oh, the apples are sweet. Muñeca is my new friend, she is a dog. She is playful, and says it’s ok when I stick my hands in her mouth. We watched a movie last night called Animal Planet on television. What fun, colored pictures of animals that move. We got to eat popcorn too! Muñeca even let me wrestle and tear at her toys. She even let me take one ball out to my cage.
     I am happy living here with my adopted family. Mom and Dad understand when I play too rough or get too frisky; they know I am a wild animal and must be treated as such. They also know if I am treated with love and respect, I will respond in the same way. Muñeca told me I will be safe and well taken care of as she licked my face and put her paw on my head.
     Memories of my life in the forest with my real parents are getting fuzzy now. Sometimes, things seem familiar, but I know I will never live in the forest again; I don’t know how to. My destiny was changed when I was four weeks old. I will never know what it is like to live wild and free. Even though I no longer live in the wild, wildness is still a part of me; I will always wonder what it is like to be truly free.