We’ve had quite a bit of angst here in Casa Yak these last few days. My high schooler is learning about “imprinting” in her freshman Biology class. Her teacher brought in newborn goslings for the students to bond with. The experiment was to show how the goslings would imprint on the girl who spent the most time with the baby goose, and follow her around the school, thinking she’s its mother.
Well, you can guess where this story goes from here, can’t you? My daughter’s gosling, Peep, adores her and followed her everywhere. He peeps nonstop if he can’t see her, and as soon as she picks him up, he snuggles into her hands and goes right to sleep.
Unfortunately, the “imprinting” went both ways, and my daughter is now emotionally invested in what happens to Peep.
The teacher told the other students that they could keep their goslings if their parents say it’s okay, otherwise, they’ll go back to the supplier and be killed. Naturally, all of the girls want to keep their babies.
The problem? Well, first of all, it’s illegal. Even if you do have a large enough piece of property and secure a special permit, you need to provide adequate housing, heat and care for the rest of the gosling’s life. Once imprinted on a human, it cannot be released into the wild or it will die.
Most of the other girls don’t understand this, and plan to set their goslings free in a park somewhere within the next couple of weeks. They’re condemning their geese to death just as surely as if they’d let their teacher take it back to the poultry farm to be killed.
My daughter is extremely upset about the whole thing. She feels terrible that she took part in this stupid experiment, and has now ruined this gosling’s chances for a normal life out in the wild. Her objections to killing the geese are met with matter-of-fact declarations of “This is what they were raised for.”
I’ve been calling around to wildlife refuges, trying to find a place for him, but so far, no luck. She has had a few other students say they were going to adopt it, only to have them back out at the last moment. I’m going to be bringing Peep back into school later this morning, and if no one takes him, the Bio teacher will haul him back to the poultry farm.
A horrible situation all around.
UPDATE#1: I dropped him off at the school and spoke with the teacher briefly. He claims that the supplier will NOT kill the gosling, but I am not confident that’s the case. He was a bit abrupt and wouldn’t make eye contact with me. In the meantime, my daughter said that another girl at school plans to adopt the gosling.
The problem is, none of these girls that have adopted birds plan to keep them longer than a few days. They all think they can just dump them off at a local park and it will be fine. They won’t be.
UPDATE#2: One of the other girls from school took Peep home with her this weekend. She had also bonded with this little guy during Bio class, and was thrilled to have him. My daughter felt sure that this other girl would be responsible in her care of the gosling, but only time will tell. In the meantime, I have gathered up some phone numbers for local farms that take in animals like these. None of the wildlife refuge centers in the area accept these kinds of animal donations, but some local farmers do. My daughter will pass along the phone numbers to the girl who adopted Peep, just in case.