New ostriches ease the pain of Eddie’s death

Nathan Liewicki
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Published on May 29, 2014

Carmel the alpaca sits in a group of alpacas at the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary Monday afternoon.

Published on May 29, 2014

Max the peacock stands atop a small structure at the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary on Monday after being chased by some roosters. 

Published on May 29, 2014

Simon the little lamb looks ahead as he crawls on his front knees at the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary Monday. Born less than two weeks ago with a physical disability, Simon is one of the new additions to the animal sanctuary. 

Published on May 29, 2014

A guinea fowl wades through a puddle at the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary on Monday.

Published on May 29, 2014

An emu wades through a puddle at the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary on Monday. Two emus have been brought into the Free To Be Me family since last fall.

Published on May 29, 2014

Penny the ostrich stares at the camera in between bites of food at the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary on Monday. She is one of two new ostriches at the sanctuary this spring.

Published on May 29, 2014

A group of Sebastopol geese gather, and some spread their wings, at the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary on Monday.

Two emus, several alpacas among animal sanctuary's new additions

The squawking sound of a guinea fowl is unmistakable. When three or four guinea fowls squawk in unison, that sound is magnified.

“They’re a little shy, but not shy enough not to be quiet,” said Louanne Shropshire, owner of the Free To Be Me Animal Sanctuary, located just west of Moose Jaw.

For a bird native to Africa that makes so much noise when strangers approach them, it is difficult to understand just how they can be so noisy. That said, guinea fowls eat ticks, so their chatter can be forgiven.

Shropshire leaves some guinea fowls close to her home for the purpose of eating away at the Lyme disease-spreading insects. She noted that the birds also act like watch dogs, as evidenced by their squawking.

The guinea fowls comprise only a small percentage of animals Shropshire cares for on a daily basis at the sanctuary.

She estimates that there are 125 animals that call the 190-acre property home, including Max the peacock.

“He’s kind of confused,” Shropshire said of the two-year-old peacock. “He turns to all of the animals asking, ‘will you love me?’”

Max, who is still waiting for all of his feathers to grow in, has spent much of his time at the sanctuary inside one of the sanctuary’s structures. However, since winter turned to spring, he has spent oodles of time trying to make friends with the roosters, turkeys, African dewlap geese and other animals.

Also making new friends are two of Shropshire’s newest additions.

Penny and Andy are two new ostriches that have been making their acquaintances at the sanctuary known inside the last month. Both birds came from Alberta and were headed to an abattoir before Shropshire brought them into the Free To Be Me family.

In addition, the ostriches have filled a void left at the sanctuary during the winter when Eddie the ostrich died due to pneumonia.

“It took my mind off (her death),” Shropshire said of bringing in the two new ostriches. “Nothing will replace Eddie.

“There was a big empty void here because we built that (building) especially for Eddie, and it’s just nice to have it filled.”

Shropshire added that people wanted to see ostriches again, and it turned out that everything fell into place accordingly to allow her to bring in Penny and Andy.

She noted that the birds are doing quite well adjusting to their new surroundings, as well as the other animals.

“I was a little worried because they had never seen any other animals just ostriches,” Shropshire told the Times-Herald.

Penny, who is missing part of a wing and is less than one-year-old, has not stopped eating since she arrived at the sanctuary. Meanwhile two-year-old Andy has developed a fascination of pecking at Shropshire’s gloves.

Other new additions to the sanctuary since last fall include two emus, a host of young alpacas, Shropshire described as velvet, and a young sheep named Simon who was born without the ability to walk properly. She said the kids call Simon “crazy legs.”

“This is the first year we’ve had so many and it’s so fun to watch,” Shropshire said of the alpacas, of which there are about a dozen. “They just tear around the pasture.”

She said it’s been a busy start to the spring season with many tours having taken place already, but Shropshire would not have it any other way.

To schedule a tour at the animal sanctuary, call Shropshire at 306-684-2231.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Times-Herald

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Africa, Alberta

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  • Mike Sunderland
    June 01, 2014 - 17:41

    I supplied both Ostriches from my farm nr St Paul and pleased they are both doing well, Penny the Hen is probably going to lay before she is two yrs thats why she is consuming a lot of food. As I explained to L the ostrich eats only about 2.0kg/day and therefore requires a high quality ration to sustain itself. These birds had that start in life and will thrive under her stewardship. During their early chick stage about 4 birds had their right wing leading limb severed by constant pecking as different bloodlines were present in the pen, the birds are as you discovered very social creatures, I hope she can raise some chicks and make a family. There so few birds left in W. Canada now. Great report thank you.