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Duncan and Lucy: An Unlikely Love Story That Will Melt Your Heart

Lucy the tamandua


By Volunteer Duncan Coleman

KSTR would like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving! The holiday season is a time of giving thanks so we chose this heart warming story to welcome in the season! Enjoy!

Lucy… An anteater to many, a remarkable novelty to others, and to a select few- a beautiful creature that will never be forgotten. When I wake up and feel the sunlight from my bedroom window brush my face I think of the beauty of it all and my mind always wanders to the memories I’ve shared with Lucy. I feel her sway on me in every action I make and in every step I take. Lucy has burrowed herself right to the center of my heart and who could blame me? The memories I made caring for her at the KSTR wildlife sanctuary are hard to forget.

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The romance began early on in my stay at KSTR. It was my 3rd day there. I was reviewing volunteer activities that I could do and I saw something that I had overlooked. Anteater walking! I was intrigued, excited, borderline ecstatic, and I had a feeling that this was something I needed to do. I asked about the job as soon as I could and after a few days gaining the trust of the on-site Wildlife Manager, Sam Trull, I saw Lucy. Pedro, the KSTR biologist who loves anteaters, was holding her in a carrying cage for her training to live in the wild for her later release. When he brought her out to go up in a small tree off the side of the trail going to the secret garden I knew I was hooked. She was magnificent. An awe invoking beauty of the natural world…

Soon enough I found myself walking Lucy every day. First for an hour or so, then two, then three, and soon enough I just didn’t want to leave! I would take her down to the secret garden most days. It was a paradise for anteaters and for me. As the name suggests it was quite an out of the way place, but the word garden does not give this place justice. It was massive! As you make your way down the steep hill going into the garden you can see rainforest trees all around. Citrus trees, palms, small streams, bromeliads, termites galore, and a plethora of various ant specimens all surrounded this giant grassy clearing! Lucy loved it there and words can’t describe the warm feeling that bursts from inside me as I think of the long hours I spent there.

I had many good memories with Lucy, but everyday wasn’t a walk in the park. There were hard days… days that tested my devotion to Lucy. I will share one of those days. It was a sunny day in mid-July. I had just finished walking Lucy for the day. After putting her away, I decided to walk to the Meditation Labyrinth I had been hearing about. As I walked around the serene stone spiral and meditated in the center I wished for Lucy to be released as soon as possible and for me to do everything in my power to get her ready for release. A simple enough goal, but around an hour later I heard over the radio from another volunteer that Lucy wasn’t in her cage. My heart sank. I dropped everything I was doing and as I ran to the sanctuary I was filled with questions: How did she get out? Did I not close her cage correctly? What if she doesn’t come back? Can she really survive out there on her own? She was gone all right. Without hesitation I ran for a pair of snake boots and went trekking into the rainforest as night was closing in. I didn’t care if a snake bit me or if some wild animal decided to make me its next meal. Nothing mattered except getting Lucy back safely. Nothing mattered except seeing her again. Nothing mattered except holding her in my arms again. Night settled in. I couldn’t hear or see the rest of the search party. It was me, myself, and I out there. Minutes passed, then an hour. Every branch, every nook, and every cranny looked like Lucy. I would run to what I thought was surely an anteater, but it was always just a figment of my imagination, a mirage, a false hope. Then… in the distance I heard the other volunteers. They had found Lucy! I couldn’t rush out of the jungle fast enough! I broke through branches, hurdled over the trees in my path, ducked under barbwire, and there she was! Safe and sound lapping up some fresh goats milk right outside her cage! The weight of the entire world came off my shoulders at that moment. She was okay! She wasn’t eaten! Oh, how I thank the heavens that she came back for that warm milk…

Lucy will always have a special place in my heart. I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience with KSTR. The good and yes, even the hard times with Lucy have shaped my outlook into what it is today and has ignited a passion within me to enter the field of wildlife conservation. Thank you Lucy and more importantly thank you KSTR for affording me the opportunity to play a part in Lucy’s life.

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