For Bailey and Fairchild, the morning started like any other. Northwest Trek keeper Dave Meadows drove up, unloaded buckets of food from the truck and divided it into piles on the road in the Free-Roaming Area. The two mountain goat kids, now just over one year old, ambled up from the lakeside with Klahhane, Elwha and Rocky, and began munching.
But today was going to be very different for the two female goats, who came to the wildlife park last summer as part of a multiagency effort translocating mountain goats to the Cascades (where they are native) from the Olympic Mountains (where they aren’t). Kids without known mothers found a home at Northwest Trek ¬– and now they were scheduled to get their one-year physical exam.
“Here, I’ll hold Bailey,” said keeper Deanna Edwards, as Meadows walked slowly to support Fairchild as she lay down on the soft grass.
Both kids had been anesthetized by veterinarian Dr. Allison Case. With fellow keeper Ed Cleveland standing guard on the three curious males, the team gently folded each kid into a carrier and laid them sleeping onto thick mats in the truck.
A quick trip down to the vet clinic, and soon Bailey and Fairchild were resting peacefully on their mats just outside the clinic.
Physicals and pedicures
“I’ll get blood first, and Deanna, can you get some fecal samples?” said Case, stationing herself on the ground by Fairchild. Staff held both animals’ heads upright to allow saliva to drain, eyes protected by a cloth.
“Thanks,” said Edwards wryly, moving between the goats with gloves and a plastic bag.
Meanwhile, Cramer had started getting temperatures, then drew Bailey’s blood sample for a complete blood count. The goats had already been weighed: 118 pounds for Fairchild, and 103 for Bailey, who’d always been the smallest of the five.
The team continued with vaccines, dewormer and vitamin/mineral injections, plus a hoof trim: Goat hooves are constantly growing, and the soft meadows of the Free-Roaming Area don’t wear them down as much as a rocky mountainside would. Like human fingernails, they’re made of keratin, and clipping doesn’t hurt at all. Inside the hoof is a spongy area like a human palm, which grips rock like a suction cup to help goats climb such astonishing heights.
As the team worked, the hum of summer bees and forest combined with the soft sounds of goat breaths, along with occasional tiny vocalizations, like bleating sighs. Soft, fluffy white hair, flecked with twigs, rose and fell with every breath. Open mouths, rimmed with incoming adult teeth, drooled ever so slightly.
Some preventative fly spray, and a gentle rocking to encourage burping from those four stomachs, and the exams were complete.