The deep down disgust that a rotten, mostly-eaten cow carcass inspires is instinctual. It’s like jumping at a snake–something from deep down & back in our animal minds. Maggots are repulsive. And watching a flock chickens slurp them up from the hosed-down sludge from three cows in the back of a pickup, frankly makes me not want to eat chicken. Even if the chicks are cure as hell.

But vultures aren’t just what they eat. I smelled the back feathers of one today, PJ, a hand-reared Cape vulture. He didn’t smell rotten at all. He pecked at my boot grommets an tried desperately to unzip all my zippers. Another bird de-handled the water bucket and pranced around the enclosure proudly carrying it high in the air, all of his compadres following behind.

I’m still being a bit beaten down by jet lag, so that’s it for now. Tomorrow I go to the vet to watch a wing amputation–always the very last resort, as it sentences the bird to life behind a barred door, without parole.

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