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Special Patients Need Special Treatment

Sometimes it takes creative thinking to care for wild animals.  Many of our patients - especially the babies - need an environment that simulates what they would have in the wild, whether it's a mother's pouch, branches to climb on, or a wing to nestle under.

When a baby comes to the Wildlife Shelter, we do eveeagletrything we can to give it the kind of wild existence it would have had.  For instance, whenever we can, we group babies of the same species and age together, so they can grow up with their own kind.   

As the babies grow up, we create habitats that will let them develop the skills they'll need in the wild.  Owls perch on fir branches.  Young squirrels race up and down branches, and ducklings take a dip in a pool.  We do everything we can to help the patient feel comfortable in the world it will enter when it leaves the Shelter.

A Wing to Sleep Under
Many of our wild patients are used to sleeping with their mother or with siblings.  When we can't put babies of a similar species together, we do what we can to give our patients a friend, even if it's an inanimate one. 

When we put this stuffed-animal eagle into this gosling's cage, it took to it immediately.  The gosling treated the eagle as its mother and its safe sanctuary.  Every night, without fail, it slept under the eagle's wing.

Photo: Richard Badger
baby douglas squirrel Cuddling in a Hat
Many of our baby patients come to us when they're so small, their eyes are still closed.  Baby squirrels don't open their eyes for a month after birth.  For these tiny patients, it's important that they not only have food and care, but also a warm nest to snuggle up in. 

In order to recreate the nest environment, we'll put babies of the same age and species together and will give them a cozy hat to sleep in.  The babies in our care adapt readily to these human-made nests.


Who's that Goose in the Mirror?
How does a baby animal learn what sort of creature it is?  In the wild, babies spend hours looking at their mothers and siblings, developing a keen sense of their identityl.  When a baby is orphaned or injured and comes to the Wildlife Shelter, we take steps to help it form its own identity.  This goose is checking out its reflection in the mirror, building its sense of identity.

squirrel Learning to Scamper
As the babies grow up, open their eyes, and become curious about their surroundings, we move them into enclosures that include more habitat.  In the case of squirrels, this means branches to run around on. Ducklings and waterfowl get pools to swim in and birds get cages that not only have room for test flights but also branches to alight on. These new habitats let the babies practice all the skills they'll need when they're released into the wild.
Photo: Robin Purcell Photography


squirrel in box

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