- Helena Kyle
The Treasure Coast Wildlife Center
Volunteering Series: The Treasure Coast Wildlife Center
Previously Published in the Pineapple Post
By Helena Kyle
Once upon a time, in our backyard, our three playful canine buddies led us to a newborn cottontail laying on the ground beside a shallow burrow. Nearly twenty-four hours later, there was no indication that mamma cottontail had returned to her bunny. The tiny, helpless creature, eyes not yet opened, needed our assistance, but we did not know how to help, so I called our veterinarian's office. The woman who answered the phone gave me the phone number to the Wild Animal Hospital in Martin County. I had no idea such a hospital exists, but I am ever so grateful for this invaluable resource at the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center!
After dropping baby cottontail off at the animal hospital, I made an appointment to interview Dan Martinelli, Executive Director of the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center. Dan, a former biology and chemistry teacher, gave me much insight, not to mention a wealth of information regarding the history, current status, and vision for the future of the Wildlife Center. The Center is a nature preserve comprised of 293 acres, located in Palm City, employing 2 full-time and 5 part-time workers. The employees routinely attend continuing education. The wild animal hospital cares for 1500 to 2000 patients each year. Needless to say, volunteers are integral to the upkeep of the preserve and habitat areas of the various fowl and animal residents unable to survive on their own due to debilitating injury.
Volunteers commit to one day a week, typically, from 9:00 A.M. – 11:00 A.M. Training is hands-on, on the job. The greatest volunteer need is for feeding the resident animals and cleaning their habitat area. Also, if you are a nature enthusiast interested in giving walking tours of the property, you are welcome to volunteer your skill as an interpretive naturalist.
Additionally, the Wildlife Center offers experiential learning programs to preschool students through nursing home residents, as well as customized internship programs for students interested in pursuing a career in environmental/naturalist studies.
Encountering an injured wild animal is entirely different from dealing with domestic pets – it is most beneficial for the animal if you educate yourself on what to do, prior to doing anything. The Treasure Coast Wildlife Center’s website offers detailed information on what to do if you find an injured or orphaned wild animal. Remember, as self-defense, a wild animal’s natural instinct is to flee from humans; an animal near the road may try to head into the woods for safety. If you call the Wildlife Center, or Martin County 911, to report a sighting of an injured wild animal, be very specific as to the location of the animal; locating a wild animal is time-consuming for those offering to transport the animal.
Stewardship is an act of love, and the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center offers abundant opportunities for volunteers to spread the love.
For more information, visit the website: www.TCwild.org
The Wildlife Animal Hospital: 8626 SW Citrus Blvd. Palm City, FL.