Baby Season Campaign 2021
The fall months in Florida bring wildlife baby season to its peak, which means we need your help! Every year, we care for thousands of native wild animals; this year the number of animals treated has already grown to more than 3,148. During the peak of baby season, we expect to receive and treat as many as 25 orphaned baby animals every week! Some of these orphaned animals arrive due to injury, while others, due to being taken from their parents unnecessarily and brought to us for care.
Regardless of why they end up at our rehabilitation center, they need your help and so do we!
Our Campaign Goals:
1) EDUCATE on wild baby animal rehabilitation
2) RAISE FUNDS to save our wildlife and our planet
3) RAISE AWARENESS about different ways to help
We hope you find this resourceful and share it with everyone you know. Please scroll down for all the ways to get involved.
Found a Baby Animal?
We are always here to receive and treat patients every day of the week, but it is important to keep in mind that if a baby animal is found by someone who feels the urge to rescue them, a few steps must be first taken to identify if there is truly a need for that animal to be rescued. The majority of the time, the parents of the babies have not abandoned them, but are instead searching and collecting food for them, which, depending on the species of the animal, can take several hours.
The first important thing to do is to observe if the baby is hurt or in distress, and if not, wait to determine if the mother returns. Bird and squirrel mothers can return in a couple of hours, cottontail rabbit mothers only visit at dusk to avoid attracting predators, and for fawns, it could take up to 14 hours. If you waited and have not seen the parent return, or if you find an injured baby or one that your pet has brought to you, call us right away at (941) 484-9657 or (941) 416-4967 for an after-hours emergency line.
What Happens in Rehab?
You might be curious about what happens after an orphaned baby has been admitted for rehabilitation. Our mission is “to rescue and rehabilitate sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife and return them to their natural habitat.” A large part of the time at the center involves the “orphaned” part of that statement, especially during baby season. The care consists of round-the-clock feedings, cleaning, medical treatment, and also caring for surrogate mothers who can be matched up with orphaned babies as needed.
Our Executive Director, Pamela DeFouw, shares: “When caring for human orphans, it’s pretty basic to know that they will “imprint” on other humans. That means they will recognize and identify with others of their species. However, when very young animals of other species are orphaned and brought to a rehabilitation center, a major challenge is in raising them to know what they are, and what is vital to their survival in the world. Additionally, imprinting can harm the animal in another way. Often, others of its species won’t accept it because they will feel that something is off and that it’s not a member of the group.”
Safeguard Orphan Procedures
- The interaction with the orphans is kept to a minimum. They get fed and cleaned but are never petted or spoken to. They are handled as little as possible.
- Whenever possible, they are grouped with members of the same species and age to learn from each other. When only one or two fit that category, other centers are contacted and attempts are made to combine same-age animals in one place.
- They are raised to be on their own, as close to their natural history as it would be in the wild.
- Raptors are more challenging and, whenever possible and appropriate, are placed with a surrogate.
Surrogates are members of the same or very similar species. Some surrogates could have been deemed as non-releasable due to an injury, or a healed injury that would make it hard for them to survive in the wild. Surrogates have been used very successfully at many centers, including ours, in raising an orphan who can successfully be released back to the wild. Hawks, however, are kept with their species because not all hawks are alike. It is important because of their vocal calls, and training them to hunt in a fashion that is specific to their way.
Our center currently has around 75 surrogates of several different species which are invaluable in raising and successfully releasing orphans. Another unique factor for our center is that it is the only center in the county to take in mammals, and vaccinate raccoons, otters, bobcats, foxes, skunks, and coyotes against canine and feline viruses.
How You Can Help Our Wild Baby Animals
During the entire month of September, we hope to raise $10,000 to help care for the wild baby animals, and surrogates. We will need lots of species-specific formula, enrichment supplies, growth supplements, greens, blankets, fitted sheets, and pillowcases. Monetary donations always go FIVE times as far. These funds are crucial to care for the orphans, and to keep people and pets of our communities safe by vaccinating for viruses that can cause great damage.
Cleanup Challenge September 7-18
If you love our planet Earth, we invite you to participate in our "Cleanup Challenge". During this challenge, we invite members of our community to go on trash cleanup adventures, helping to keep our neighborhoods, parks, and beaches clean, healthy, and safe for our wildlife neighbors. If you participate, take photos and share them on social media, and don't forget to tag us!
If you have time and would like to volunteer, we have a great need for afternoon hours volunteers from 1 PM to 6 PM, with training provided onsite. We can use your help with caring for the young, as well as rescues, transports, fundraising, collecting supplies, feeding animals, and more! Apply to volunteer today to help ave thousands of wild animals.
Virtual Baby Shower September 13
Another fun way to give back is by joining our Virtual Baby Shower. The big day is planned for September 13: a day with a heavy focus on making our wish list dreams come true. But you can shop our Amazon Wish List all month long, and your gifts will be mailed directly to our center. If you prefer to drop off donations, visit us any day from 9 AM to 6 PM at 925 North Jackson Road, Venice, FL 34292.
Sponsor A Baby Animal
By becoming a sponsor, you ensure the orphaned baby’s care and treatment is covered from admission (neonatal age) to release (old enough to survive on their own). Your donation will cover the cost of feedings, cleanings, medical care, enrichment supplies, and anything else they might need. Once you become a sponsor for an orphaned baby animal, we will send you an eco-friendly digital certificate of sponsorship that you can proudly display at your home or place of business.
Sponsor a Baby Cottontail Rabbit
Cottontails are in rehabilitation (if from birth to release) for around 21 days.
Sponsor a Baby Possum
Possums are in rehabilitation (if from birth to release) for around 3.5-4 months.
Sponsor a Baby Squirrel
Squirrels are in rehabilitation (if from birth to release) for around 14-16 weeks.
Sponsor a Baby Raccoon
Raccoons are in rehabilitation (if from birth to release) for around 5-5.5 months.