2014 Year in Review: Amber Dedrick, Former Wildlife Rehabilitator

It’s time to look back on 2014! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2014 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

When I look back on 2014, I have so many memories -- the sad, emaciated yearling bears I helped nurse back to health, the strange absence of baby squirrels early in the spring, traveling to the NWRA conference in Tennessee, the first adorable baby bunnies, turtles wrestling earthworms, delightful baby Blue Jays and rambunctious bear cubs … just to name a few. Every year when Amanda asks us to pick one memory to write about, I always have such a hard time deciding which experience to pick!

As anyone at the Wildlife Center knows, one of my favorite things to do is environmental enrichment for the patients and permanent residents. In 2014, we did some really fun things. For the bears, we made a tire bridge, a group of Boy Scouts made a climbing structure for the bear complex, we gave a firehose hammock to our young foxes … but one of my favorite projects was making fire hose hammocks for the education opossums.

 

The first hammock we made was for Thelma; it was a hanging hammock that she absolutely LOVED. After it was installed, not a day went by that I wouldn’t find her sleeping in it, all snuggled up in her blankets. We then made some for Bert and Ernie, Phebe, and Pogo. These hammocks were a bit different in that they ended up having a wooden frame so that they could be more portable. Whether the education opossums sleep on top of the hammocks, or hide underneath them, it was a fun experience to teach our extern students that you can do fairly simple things to help enrich an animal’s environment.

We do lots of different types of enrichment, and another special day for the opossums in 2014 was Bert, Ernie, and Thelma’s third birthday. To prepare for this occasion, volunteer Tina and I set to work on making them some very special birthday “cakes”. There were several layers to their cakes: canned dog food, eggs, crickets, apple, baby food, and of course a mouse on top! We then froze the cakes to prolong their fun birthday enrichment. When we delivered the birthday cakes, all of the opossums had a great time working on eating their favorite parts.

Although my time at the Wildlife Center has come to an end, I’ll always cherish the wonderful memories and experiences I’ve accumulated while working there!

--Amber

Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!