The Wildlife Center of Virginia, a leading teaching and research hospital for wildlife, is enlisting the help of area elementary-school children in coming up with a name for a Red-tailed Hawk – an non-releasable hawk that will soon be visiting schools as one of the Center’s environmental ambassadors. Earlier this month, the Wildlife Center contacted 39 area elementary schools to ask students to provide suggestions for a name for the Red-tailed Hawk [the schools are in Augusta and Rockingham Counties and in Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro]. The hawk was hit by a car in Dayton, Virginia in February 2010 and admitted as a patient to the Wildlife Center. Upon admission, the Center’s veterinary team found a fracture in her left wing as well as severe trauma to her right eye. While her wing healed, her eye had to be surgically removed. With limited vision, the bird cannot see well enough to be released into the wild. Since May 2010, Center staff have been working with the hawk to determine her suitability as an education ambassador – a bird that would accompany Center staff on trips to schools, county fairs, and other public events. At the Wildlife Center, patients are assigned numbers, but education animals [permanent residents] are given names. Thus far the Center has received several dozen entries from about 15 schools; the deadline for submission is January 31. At the end of the month, Center staff will review the names suggested and winnow the list down to a few top choices. Those names will be posted on the Center’s website, and the winner will be determined by an on-line vote. In addition to bragging rights, the winning school will also received a special visit from the hawk and Center staff. “Our education animals help students better understand our state’s wildlife and the steps each of us can take to protect wildlife and the environment,” Amanda Nicholson, the Center’s Director of Outreach, said. “It’s such a treat for students to get to see a hawk or an owl or an opossum up close. We’re delighted that area students will help us name this hawk, who will become another special ‘teacher’ at the Wildlife Center.” Additional information about the Red-tailed Hawk The newly named hawk will join about two dozen hawks, owls, eagles, falcons, turtles and snakes that are part of the Center’s corps of education animals [permanent residents that, because of injuries or behavioral modifications, cannot be released back to the wild]. Other current members of this team of ambassadors are Scarlette [another Red-tailed Hawk]; Junior [a Golden Eagle]; Edie [an American Kestrel]; and Wilson [an Eastern Box Turtle]. Additional information about these and other education animals. Every year, more than 2,000 animals – ranging from Bald Eagles to opossums to turtles – are brought to the Wildlife Center for care. Since its founding in 1982, the nonprofit Center has cared for more than 56,000 wild animals, representing 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The Center’s public education programs share insights gained through the care of injured and orphaned wild animals, in hopes of reducing human damage to wildlife. The Center trains veterinary and conservation professionals from all over the world and is actively involved in comprehensive wildlife health studies and the surveillance of emerging diseases.