It’s time to look back on 2013! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2013 from the staff, students, and volunteers of the Wildlife Center.
Early on, we knew that 2013 would be the year of the Black Bear cubs. There was lots of talk of building the new bear raising facility, which meant this would be the first year we could raise tiny cubs. Little did we know what we would be getting into!
Our first cubs [#13-0388 and #13-0389] were admitted on April 10. Over the course of a few weeks, two cubs quickly turned into eight … and eight turned into 16. At the end of 2013, we’re caring for 17 Black Bear cubs and an adult!
We have never before had to care for so many Black Bears at one time, and there were some growing pains as we figured out a way to manage the care of so many bear patients! Much of my time this year has been spent caring for or thinking about these cubs – figuring out husbandry, preparing food, feeding the cubs, cleaning up after them, making sure we had enough food to give them, and worrying about their health and well-being.
When thinking about what was most memorable to me about 2013, I could easily recall some of the many adorable things the cubs have done while in our care, or I could write about how amazing it’s been to watch them grow and thrive. But I’d really like to take this opportunity to focus on what made this experience of raising 16 rambunctious cubs “bearable” – our rehabilitation externs and interns.
Our fall, spring, and summer externs helped us care for not only the 16 cubs, but also the dozens of other patients we were caring for at the Center. The patient load ranged from songbirds to baby opossums, and there were times that we had more than 250 additional patients beyond the cubs.
It is no small feat to organize the cleaning and feeding of a host of different species, all with different needs and feeding schedules. That is exactly what a wildlife rehabilitator does, and it’s the challenge Kelli Knight and I face each day, especially in spring and summer when our patient load is at its heaviest.
We rely on students to assist us with the care of our animals and make it through our task list each day. This became especially true this year when the bear cubs added even more work to our daily schedule. The reality is, without our students, it would not have been possible to give our animals the care they deserve. Some of the things our externs helped us with include: hand-feeding all different species of orphans, exercising raptors, cleaning cages, providing enrichment, making meals, collecting browse, and weighing all patients.
So I’d like to say THANK YOU to all of the externs in 2013 who have helped us. This was an especially complicated year as we negotiated new territory, and we truly appreciate your help. Whether it was cleaning or feeding or exercising our patients, your help has been invaluable to us!
Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!