Wildlife Center of Virginia Blog

Courage and Compassion

When I came for a rehabilitation externship with the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I was excited about the focus on exotic species care, which strongly correlates with my desire to care for and heal animals while respecting their natural tendencies and importance to the environment. Ultimately, I accepted the externship due to my deference for that which is wild and a willingness to preserve it.

Reflections on an Externship

I had no idea what to expect upon my arrival at the Wildlife Centre of Virginia. I have had my fair share of experiences working at various zoological collections -- places with thousands of animals and only a handful of staff to well-staffed organizations that specialise in only one or two species. I had never worked in a wildlife Centre until I came to Virginia.

As One Feeding Ends, Another Begins

The busiest time in the Center's ICU, which serves as the Center's nursery, is in the spring. The busiest time, more than 100 young animals may be housed in that room, and the first feedings of the day can last until noon!

Each day, all of the patients must be fed and given a new (clean) home; then we continue to be feed them throughout the day.

A run-down of a morning in ICU:

Weird is Normal

Wow, three months have flown by. I feel like it was just yesterday when I was arriving and driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains for the first time. Being born and raised in Illinois, the mountains were a pleasant change of scenery. I couldn’t have been happier with my new home for three months. I was going to be a wildlife rehabilitation extern at the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Before I got here, people would ask me “so what exactly are you going to be doing?” And I realized that I didn’t have an answer for them.

Red-tail Tale

While working at the Wildlife Center of Virginia, I got the chance to see the progress of many patients. Some prognoses were happy; some were not. One of my favorites was a Red-Tailed Hawk, #15-1805. This bird had a stubborn streak and would often refuse to fly when being exercised. We would often have to persuade it to continue laps in the flight pen during exercise by using a pool noodle. The bird would also complain by making high-pitched, chirping noises that were cute rather than threatening. When #15-1805 did fly, you could see an obvious wing tilt to the right.

Post-Release Monitoring of Rehabilitated Raptors

During my three-month rehabilitation externship with the Wildlife Center of Virginia I have seen the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of many animals, including three Eastern Screech-owls, two Great Horned Owls, one Cooper’s Hawk, one Ruddy Duck, one Canada Goose, three Big Brown Bats, one Virginia Opossum, and one Mink ... and so many more releases are planned for the near future! All of this left me wondering what happens to these animals after they are released back into the wild? Do they make it out there on their own? Where do they go? What do they do?

Joining The Self-Releasers

After five years at the front desk, it is time for me to go. In my leaving, I join a special league of critters from the Wildlife Center whom have opted to leave us -- not from good health (the front door), not through death (the back door), but through a side door (when we are not looking). These are the cadre of “self-releasers.”

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