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Saved from Formalin

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It’s been a few years since I’ve saved two animals from being preserved in formalin in order to be kept in laboratories as specimens.

The first animal was a snake, I was in Abrapampa, Jujuy. That was in 1998, during a trip of 40 days with the N. sisters, two beloved friends: Luciana and later on in the trip, Veronica. The journey began in the corner of my house, with a friend of some friends that could take us in his truck to the northern part of the country. We traveled through the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, we had a long drive in Bolivia, the drove through the province of Entre Ríos large and along the Uruguayan Coast. We were mostly on foot and camping.

Among our stops, we stopped at the town of Abrapampa located on a high plateau and where we lived an agronomist friend of ours. He took us to a vicugna and chinchilla breeding center. There we visited the facilities and talked with the in-house veterinarian. Among many things, she showed us a snake in a jar and told us she hated those types of animals.

They intended to preserve the poor thing in a jar filled with formol and keep it her laboratory. I asked her if I could see it and when she handed me the jar, I told her quickly and without giving her time to react that I had changed my mind; that we were going to set her free further away from the center and that’s what we did. We took the snake out of the jar and freed it in the grassland.

The other animal we saved was a tarantula. It was in a bottle in the laboratory where I studied natural science in Córdoba.

The professor was showing us preserved animals when I noticed that one of them was moving: the tarantula. I asked the professor to set it free and even though I insisted, she said no.

I went home, saddened. A few moments later, a classmate of mine came by my house. The great animal lover that she was stole the jar away, however she couldn’t bring it to her house. She handed it to me and I took care of the tarantula until we could set it free in the field. I put it in a bucket filled with dirt and placed a glass lit on the bucket. Then I phoned the Center of Applied Zoology in the Faculty of Biology. I talked with a spider expert and he told me that it belonged to the Gramnostola

Then I phoned the Center of Applied Zoology in the Faculty of Biology. I talked with a spider expert and he told me that it belonged to the Gramnostola pulchripe species. He also said that it could go a few days without eating, only I had to pour a bit of water on some cotton in order for it to be able to drink it. And so, I kept it a few days and at the first chance I had, I released it in the field. If you don’t do any sudden movements, they’re not aggressive.

I could even put the tarantula in my hand and drop it on the ground.

The story repeated itself a few weeks later with another tarantula a friend of mine brought. He found it at the factory where he worked. The workers wanted to kill the spider but thankfully, my friend thought about me. I released it after few days as well.

I could even put the tarantula in my hand and drop it on the ground. The story repeated itself a few weeks later with another tarantula a friend of mine brought. He found it at the factory where he worked. The workers wanted to kill the spider but thankfully, my friend thought about me. I released it after few days as well.

He also said that it could go a few days without eating, only I had to pour a bit of water on some cotton in order for it to be able to drink it.

And so, I kept it a few days and at the first chance I had, I released it in the field. If you don’t do any sudden movements, they’re not aggressive. I could even put the tarantula in my hand and drop it on the ground. The story repeated itself a few weeks later with another tarantula a friend of mine brought. He found it at the factory where he worked. The workers wanted to kill the spider but thankfully, my friend thought about me. I released it after few days as well.

The story repeated itself a few weeks later with another tarantula a friend of mine brought.

He found it at the factory where he worked. The workers wanted to kill the spider but thankfully, my friend thought about me. I released it after few days as well.

I remember my grandmother being really scared; she came in my room to check if the tarantula was still in its spontaneous terrarium… What patience they had. I had several animals at different periods of time, always in my room or on the little balcony. They will surely be part of other stories. But for all the animals I didn’t have time to save from a certain death, the three I did save will remain memories with a happy ending.

Author: Helena Arroyo

Translation: Noëlla Moussa

Amelie Delobel

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