Meet James Raffan. Speaker. Creator. Explorer.

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Wild Things

Having spent a great deal of time outdoors as a kid growing up on the banks of the Speed River in Guelph, learning through experience about the plants and animals that went about their business through the cycling of the seasons, I got it in my head that what I really wanted to do was be a marine biologist.  Around second year of studying biology at Queen’s University, I got a dream summer job working for Dr. Keith Ronald at the University of Guelph.  For a couple of summers I was the keeper of a bunch of seals (Harp, Ringed, Harbour and even two Baikel Seals from Russia) that were subjects for some fascinating research projects.  Working on a daily basis with Dr. Ronald’s graduate students and technicians, my job was to feed and medicate the animals, clean their tanks, catch them when necessary, take and analyse blood samples, and help the researchers in Zoo Annex III (mostly by staying out of the way).  In my third year at U of G, however … kind of a long story … I got involved with setting up a research protocol, which had been used to determine the spectral sensitivity of seals, on a captive polar bear.  This particular bear had been part of an energetics study in Churchill, Manitoba.  Because participation in that research had habituated any natural fear of humans, these bears could not be reintroduced to the wild.  So they were tranferred to the Toronto Zoo to live out their lives there.  One of these bears just couldn’t get along with the other bears in the zoo and so rather than be euthanized immediately, Dr. Ronald opted to bring him to his research facility at U of G.  And that’s where I met “Huxley” a full grown male polar bear.  It was an incredible opportunity for a kid who was coming to the end of his undergraduate degree in biology and thinking about graduate work.  Suffice it to say, a caged full grown polar bear is a complicated situation … for the bear and for its keeper.

Categories: ,

Aksarka Reindeer Races
Anadyr Painting Hazard
Arctic Cotton Grass
Arctic Fox Kit Coates Island
Arctic Heather
Arctic Lupins Bumble Bee
Arctic Tern
Arctic Wolf Back River
Bare Bear Tracks in the Torngats
Bear in CPAWS jacket
Blue Yellow & Green
Bowhead Whale Kingait
Brown Bluff Penguins Sunday Elephant Seal SOI
Burnside Peregrines
Coppermine Caribou
Crabeater Seal Antarctica
Evening Hack Iceland
Final Approach
Frontenac Snapper
Fulmar Cruising
Grand Puddle Ducks
Grand River Canadian Geographic
Happy Canadian Dog
Hitched Up Aksarka Reindeer Race
Ice Birds
Icelandic Horses
Icelandic Horses Quiet
Moss Campion
Murrs Cape Walstenholme
Nunavut Air Force
Polar Bear Fairbanks
Puffin Grimsey
Ravens Kotzebue
Rideau Loon
Right Over There
Ringed Seal Lunch Baker Lake
Ringed Seal Lunch Lancaster Sound
River Beauty
Sic Sic Convention
Skua Conducting Orchestra
Snow Buntings Shishmaref
Sow & Cub Hudson Bay
Stone Sheep Alaska
Sunset Geese
That's a mouthful
The Committee
Thelon Muskox
Think About It!
TVs in a Tree
Two Skuas Seven Dwarfs
Ushuaia Lupina
Walrus Island
Walrus Surfacing
Wild Flamingo
Wild Rose Hips
Yawning Sheep Grimsey
Yellow Wall
You Say What?

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