Animals in Education
The permanent residents at the Wisconsin Humane Society's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center help our staff and volunteers in different ways. Some, like Crow Baby, an American Crow, and J.J., a Ring-billed Gull, act as foster parents for orphaned animals of their kind in our Nursery and in our outdoor wildlife exercise enclosures. Crow Baby's legs were broken when he fell from his nest as an infant. He received treatment at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital, but he can't be released due to a resulting permanent handicap. J.J. was found badly injured and received care at another wildlife hospital. J.J. can't fly well enough to be released, but he enjoys spending three seasons of the year outdoors with convalescing gulls in our pre-release exercise aviaries.
Some of our permanent residents, however, live a much more glamorous lifestyle. They work with WHS educators to teach the public about wildlife and how to live harmoniously with wild animals.
Talon, the Peregrine Falcon
Talon is a Peregrine falcon, an endangered species in Wisconsin. Before Talon came to us, he was trained by a falconer to sit on a gloved hand and return to the falconer's glove for food. Talon and the falconer worked together to scare other birds away from airports to help prevent bird collisions with aircraft. Talon is now a valued member of our education team. You can find him greeting guests at special WHS events and helping teach people in our education programs about endangered species and the importance of being compassionate to wildlife. From time to time, Talon even makes guest appearances on local TV stations!
Picasso, the Eastern Screech Owl
Picasso is an Eastern Screech Owl, admitted to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center with a severe injury to one eye and a severely fractured wing. He was found on the road, so it’s likely he was hit by a car. Picasso had surgery to stabilize his fractured wing bones so they could heal. He also had weeks of treatment to his damaged eye, and physical therapy for his healing wing. But despite the best of care, Picasso’s injuries have left him with permanent handicaps that prevent him from being released to the wild. So, this lucky little owl now has a second life here at the Wisconsin Humane Society, helping us educate people about the need to treat wildlife with respect and kindness.
Sonny and Cher, the Mallard Ducks
Sonny and Cher are two sibling female Mallards who were brought to the Wisconsin Humane Society after they were illegally hand-raised by a misinformed, but well-meaning person. As ducklings, their finder unknowingly fed them a diet deficient in calcium, and as a result, the ducks developed “metabolic bone disease,” which left some of their bones weakened and bowed. For this reason, they can’t fly or walk normally. Sonny and Cher are a perfect example why it is a bad idea (and illegal) to keep wild animals as pets, and why it is so important to immediately contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator when you find a wild animal that needs help. These ducks are now part of the WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center’s team of education animals, helping us teach others about how they can prevent needless injury, illness and death for wild animals in our community.
Nathan, the Eastern Red Bat
Nathan, the Eastern Red Bat, was brought to our wildlife hospital as an orphaned infant. Orphaned Red Bats are notoriously challenging to raise in captivity, as they are foliage-roosting bats; meaning that unlike cavity-roosting bats (such as Big Brown Bats), that leave their babies alone for periods of time in “nurseries” while they hunt for insects, foliage-roosting bats carry their babies with them at all times, allowing them continual access to nourishing milk. When a wildlife rehabilitator steps in as a surrogate-bat-mother – this means feeding them every 2 hours, 24 hours a day! We have experience with bat orphans, but raising a Red Bat orphan required consulting with several specialists. We tried our best, and are proud to say we got him through his toughest times (we were warned that young red bats have the tendency to die at any moment, for any reason – talk about being an anxious mother!). However, despite our best efforts, and nightly flight-exercise time between 10pm-12am, Nathan never developed full flight skills. Our hopes of releasing him in fall were transferred to hopes of releasing him in spring after a winter of flight practice. However, Nathan had different plans, and we ultimately decided that he would not survive long-term if he was released. He is now part of our education ambassador team and thrills observers with his tiny size, bright color, and adorable face. Nathan greatly helps us educate the public about the importance and uniqueness of bats.
Amelia and Lindbergh, the Big Brown Bats
Amelia and Lindbergh, the Big Brown Bats, were patients in our wildlife hospital. We are one of only a handful of rehabilitators in Wisconsin that are licensed to care for these bats that are considered a threatened species in our state. Each year we care for over 100 bats. Our goal is to rehabilitate them and release them to the wild, but these two came in with such serious injuries that they were ultimately determined to be non-releasable. Both have wing damage (Amelia is missing about 15% of each wing, and Mr. Earhart is missing about 50% of one wing). Since bats hunt for insects in flight, as you can imagine, any impairment to their wings is very serious. We obtained state-authorization to add Amelia and Lindbergh to our education program. These two wonderful bats now help us educate the hundreds of people that attend our education programs each year about bats. In our programs we talk about the importance and significance of bats, and we also dispel the many persistent myths about bats. Bats are wonderful mothers, they are exceptionally clean, and very sensitive and observant individuals. People are always amazed by how cute their faces look up close and by how small bats truly are (even though their species name has “big” in it!). We love bats, and we can’t think of better ambassadors to help us in our mission to build a community that treats animals with kindness and respect.
Our permanent residents require specialized care in order to maintain their health. From exercise regimens to diets particular to their needs. If you would like to make a contribution to the ongoing care of one of our permanent residents, please click here to make a donation.