Animal of the Month: Volunteers (Homo Sapiens
The wildlife that have been featured animals of the month in 2005 by the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center were either remarkable or had extraordinary stories: an orphaned bobcat kitten whose mother was shot dead; a rare baby long-tailed weasel; a drowning king snake that required sutures on a cat-caused wound; three great horned owlets that were fostered by Loki, WERC’s educational great horned owl; 13 lucky baby barn owls arriving within one month; a little opossum that had a tiny pink cast put on his broken leg; a northern pygmy owl who joined WERC’s educational animal team and whose name, Napoleon, was chosen from his name contest; five California quail that arrived small enough to hide behind a “surrogate mom” feather duster; and the tales of two red-tailed hawks – “Crooked Beak,” who required monthly beak trimmings, and a red-tailed hawk with an injured wing that practically admitted himself to WERC for some TLC.
WERC also admits hundreds of other animals each year. Some are successfully rehabilitated and released. Others are permanently injured but have the temperament and otherwise good health to become candidates for placement as educational animals. Still others have injuries or illnesses too grievous to be healed, and they sadly pass away or are euthanized.
WERC’s December tribute is to its dedicated team of volunteers who generously donate their time, expertise and elbow grease to give tender care to all of these animals, which this year included 16 red-tailed hawks, a peregrine falcon, scrub jays, western screech owls, mourning doves, Anna’s hummingbirds, killdeer, brush rabbits and 22 opossums, just to name a few honorable mentions.
Among their chores, WERC’s volunteers hand-feed orphaned nestling birds every half hour; dress in full-body, herb- and urine-scented bobcat “mom” costumes to interact with bobcat kittens; provide intensive medical care and physical therapy to sick and injured animals; build and maintain all the animal enclosures, which range from small baskets for newborn birds to a 100-foot-by-20-foot-by-20-foot eagle aviary; and assist resident educational opossums, Pogo and Blossom, with their hand- and foot-painted artwork, which benefits WERC’s wildlife patients and educational animals.
Kudos to the team that puts the WE in WERC.
Become a volunteer
Volunteers for the Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center are needed seven days a week. If you are interested and able to commit three hours once a week, call (408) 779-9372 or visit www.werc-ca.org. Volunteer orientation is scheduled monthly.
Volunteers also work at many public events throughout the year to raise funds and educate the public to encourage a peaceful coexistence between civilization and our native wildlife.
The Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center provides the community with rehabilitation services for orphaned, injured and sick native wildlife. Except for a small fee charged for educational programs, WERC is funded entirely by private donations.