Lindsay Modugno – Volunteer Reflection
When I started my internship with Wild Baby Rescue last May, I expected to be cleaning cages and filling food bowls. I would have been shocked to know that by the end of my summer I would have bottle fed fawns and squirrels, handled possums and bunnies, and help in dressing wounds. Each day at Wild Baby Rescue was a new experience with a new lesson in animal behavior and animal care.
In less than four months I was able to be a part of the rehabilitation of more than 400 animals. I did spend many days cleaning possum tanks and preparing food bowls for squirrels and groundhogs. However, these messy jobs were heavily offset by the opportunities I was given to directly handle and participate in the rehabilitation of the animals.
Caring for the fawns was the highlight of my summer. Every morning, afternoon and night, bottles were filled with goat milk substitute and warmed up. We then trekked over to the barn and tried our best to quickly feed the 8 or 9 fawns we usually had at a time. We were rewarded with complimentary fawn kisses on our bottle-holding hands and little white tail wiggles that never failed to brighten a dreary day.
When Hope was up to her knees in the dozens of fall baby squirrels, I was able to take four babies home for a weekend to ‘babysit’ as a sub-permitee and give Hope a bit of a break. During those 48 hours I experienced a fraction of the demand that Hope does 24/7. The baby squirrels had to be bottle-fed (with a small plastic nipple attached to a syringe) every four hours. I could only feed one of the four at a time and whoever hadn’t been fed yet squealed pathetically until it was his/her turn! I had finally realized that Hope’s every day was like this from spring until early fall. For more than four months, Hope is a mother to usually 100 wildlife babies at a time!
I was even able to be present for a few procedures at Wild Baby Rescue. I was particularly awed and proud when Hope asked me to monitor the respirations of an injured and anesthetized fox kit named Isis, while she redressed the Isis’ horribly wounded legs. My job was to watch Isis as she breathed, making sure the respirations were normal and easy, while Hope dabbed at abrasions, applied antibacterial ointment, and bandaged Isis’ legs up. Isis healed miraculously and was able to be released a little over a month later.
My final and by far my most rewarding experience as an intern at Wild Baby Rescue was being able to witness the releases of the animals I had helped rehabilitate. Hope allowed me and another intern, Lauren, to watch the release of a few of the fox kits we had helped care for. It was incredibly uplifting and gratifying to witness these animals seize their second chance at life with vigor and scamper off into the wild they belong to. At that moment, all the cages we had cleaned and food bowls we washed and filled seemed insignificant.
An internship at Wild Baby Rescue offers the opportunity to learn directly from the animals and from a licensed and experienced wildlife rehabilitator about animal care and behavior. Interns have the chance to help reverse some of the negative effects humanity has on wildlife and our ecosystems. Wild Baby Rescue is not only a sanctuary for injured wildlife but also an active educator of wildlife to the often uninformed public.