Returning Volunteers are key to the success of bi-annual Hicatee Health Assessments

A team of biologists, veterinarians, and turtle lovers gathered at BFREE in early March for our 14th bi-annual health assessment of the Central American River Turtle locally named Hicatee. We’ve learned so much since our first Hicatee health assessment in September 2014. The act of weighing, measuring, and reviewing the health of hundreds of turtles over the years, has allowed us to refine our methods and be much more focused and efficient than in those early days. 

Returning volunteers also help with our improved efficiency during the health assessments. Instead of training a new team on the various protocols, volunteers arrive armed with experience and enthusiasm. We are thrilled that the Dimmitt and Gregory family team have consistently participated in the February/ March Health Assessments since 2019. Their involvement means that BFREE staff along with Wildlife Veterinarian, Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand, can jump into the required activities with the knowledge that we have competent volunteers managing each of their assigned roles. 

Of her participation in the assessment, Doris Dimmitt stated “We look forward to this every year and are always happy to help in any way that we can.” And help they do. When the Dimmitts and Gregorys arrive, they are always equipped with donated supplies for BFREE and for local schools, and they show up ready for any task. Doris and her husband Rod, whose last visit was late February 2020 just prior to COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic, especially enjoy the time in nature at BFREE and describe their annual trip as a much-needed reboot for their spirit and sense of hope for the world.  

Participants: Zoo New England Staff: Bryan Windmiller and Emilie Wilder; Visiting Veterinarian: Elliott Jacobson, Professor Emeritus, University of Florida, Visiting Biologist: Dave Rostal, Southern Georgia University, Local Veterinarian: Isabelle Paquet-Durand, Visiting Volunteers: Doris Dimmitt, Rod Dimmit, Emily Gregory, Tim Gregory, and Alexi Dart. BFREE staff: Thomas Pop, Jonathan Dubon, Mark Canti, Elmer Tzalam, Jacob Marlin, and Heather Barrett. BFREE Team Hicatee chef: Edwardo Pop.

Thanks to Zoo New England for their support of this health assessment as well as for their on-going support.

Additional Blog Posts About the March 2022 Hicatee Health Assessment:

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