2020 Year in Review: Kelsey Pleasants, Wildlife Rehabilitator

It’s time to look back on 2020! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2020 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

I remember in 2019 when we set our record number of patient admissions in WCV’s history, and how crazy that felt. How shocked we all were, and how we all hoped 2020 might cut us a bit of a break … pause for laughs. In true fashion, 2020 has blown 2019 out of the water – we surpassed 2019’s final admission number in October and, as this is posted, we are currently at patient 20-3720 for the year … with a couple of days left! Maybe 2021 will be our lucky year?

One patient that sticks out in my mind of all patients admitted so far this year is Snapping Turtle #20-1715. Any aquatic turtle we house at the Center can be a bit of a challenge, simply for the set-up they require and the space it takes to house them. We’ve had many patient turtles (aquatic and terrestrial) this year, and this summer we lined up about eight aquatic turtle tubs in our aviary hallway for our Painted and Snapping Turtle patients. Snapping Turtle #20-1715 turned out to be the most challenging of them all.

You may not know this, but Snapping Turtles are very agile. You may look at one and think “man, that’s a honkin’ dinosaur” – you’re not wrong, but they’re more a Velociraptor than a Stegosaurus like you might expect. They’re also great escape artists and talented climbers, something my students sometimes don’t believe me when I tell them, until one gives us the perfect example. Enter, #20-1715.

I was in our Aviary enclosure checking on a few patients one day when I turned around to leave and quite literally shouted from surprise. Instead of staying in the newly cleaned tub we had just set up for him, #20-1715 took to helping himself around our aviary, probably not the easiest way he could’ve chosen – climbing.

On another day, my coworker Shannon called for me, concerned, as #20-1715 was missing from his enclosure and the Aviary. We feared he somehow figured his way out of the Aviary entirely and would be gone as a “self-released” patient. I took a look around as a second set of eyes, remembering this turtle’s climbing stunt a few weeks back, and eventually found him … can you?

His recovery took a bit longer than expected due to a recurring wound, but we all breathed a sigh of relief the day the vets gave their approval to release #20-1715. One of our wonderful volunteer transporters, Vivian, did the honors for us. It’s the result we all hope for, and I’m especially happy that #20-1715 is back where he belongs and is no longer giving us heart attacks with his disappearing acts. Enjoy the wild, #20-1715.

-- Kelsey, Wildlife Rehabilitator

Check out all of our year-in-review posts!

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