I published a little video on Saturday about volunteering at the Wildlife and Education Center here in Houston. I love the WR&E and although I’m exhausted when I come home, the days I spend there are endlessly rewarding.
Right now we have 650 animals at the center, all of who need to be fed and have their cages cleaned daily. The majority of them are babies who have to be fed multiple times a day. It’s a huge task that would not be completed if it weren’t for all the dedicated volunteers.
While we certainly value all life, different animals strike a chord with different people. Although I love feeding the babies, for me the raptors are the wow animals. We always have a number of hawks, falcons and owls plus the occasional eagle. On the other hand I have a hard time with the baby opossums, which I suspect has to do with all the time I spent waging war on them when I had chickens on the farm in Virginia. “Liking” the WR&E Facebook page keeps me in touch with neat new animals that come in on days that I’m not there. They just posted about three little river otters someone brought in and I can’t wait to see them!
(Went in yesterday and here they are!)
We mostly deal with native Texas wildlife and unlike the animals next door at the Houston ASPCA; the WR&E animals are not up for adoption. The one thing we do need is a place to release them when they’re ready to go. We frequently have injured ducks and geese that come to us from various public ponds in the Houston area. When their rehabilitation is complete, ideally we want to release them onto private ponds.
I have a friend back home whose son and daughter-in-law live on some acreage a couple of hours northwest of Houston. I approached them about taking some ducks and they generously agreed to take all five that we had ready. I had a friend visiting from Virginia who gamely agreed to “take a little ride” so we went by the center, loaded up the ducks and headed out. In spite of what you might imagine they quiet right down and travel pretty well.
When we arrived we carried the kennels down to the water’s edge. After a little coaxing all five ducks were out and in the water. You might not be able to imagine duck joy but we saw it. After weeks of living in small, fenced enclosures while they healed, the ducks flapped and swam and ducked under the water again and again. These were some happy ducks! I recently received an email from my friend’s daughter-in-law thanking me for the joy that the ducks have brought into their life.
The great duck release!
It was a very rewarding experience and it didn’t stop there. This woman talked about the ducks to friends who also have acreage with water and suddenly I had more duck requests than I had ducks! Last week I took two ducks and two geese to Bastrop, Texas. When I arrived I found another excited family. Another successful release followed and more happy animals were once again out in the world. These people have since agreed to take in a peacock that we happen to have.
If you would like to work with animals, Google wildlife rehabilitators in your area and see if they need your help. You won’t regret it!