The Wildlife Center of Virginia, located in Waynesboro, is hosting an open house on Sunday, Oct. 17. The times available for the tour of the Wildlife Center are 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Reservations are available for groups up to five.
The Wildlife Center of Virginia is an animal hospital that is known throughout the nation as one of the top teaching and research animal hospitals. The Center has represented over 30 countries with its volunteers and interns.
Opening in 1982, the Center treated five animals that first year; now 28 years later, the animal hospital treats about 3,000 patients each year. The patients come from people who have found injured animals, whether it be along the road or in their backyards, and bring them to the Center, where they can be properly treated and potentially released back into the wild.
This is a nonprofit organization that gets most of its funding through donations. The majority of the food for the animals was donated from various grocery stores.
“We go down to Kroger a couple times a week to get the produce that is almost bad, bring it here and feed it to the animals,” says Jeff Nicholson, who served as a tour guide on a recent tour of the Center. “I have spent a lot of time here in the kitchen on Christmas Eve preparing the animals’ Christmas dinner,” joked Nicholson.
The tour begins with a brief video and introduction of the Wildlife Center, then you begin the actual walk around of the entire center. The animals you are sure to encounter on your visit are all kinds of owls and even a couple different types of eagles. The outside housing for the animals were also made possible through donations; some were made by an Eagle Scout troop. After checking out the outside section, you will walk through the veterinary wing which is where they do exams and operations on the animals.
Upon arrival, the animals go through an exam to see what is wrong with them, then they get the treatment they need in order to make a recovery. Being released back into the wild is something every vet hopes for when the animals are brought in.
The animals go through tests to see if they are actually capable of surviving back in the wild, one test being “Mouse School.” For the birds who are well on their way to recovery and in the outside section, Mouse School is a test they must pass. A mouse is placed in their large cage; in the morning if the mouse is gone, the vets know that the bird is ready to be set free because it can find its own food.
Right now the Wildlife Center has 84 patients. Thirty of them are baby squirrels, and one is a black bear.
To help these animals, funding is necessary. The Center will be hosting 26th annual Gala Benefit and Auction on Saturday, Nov., 6 in Staunton at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. This event includes a cocktail reception and dinner as well as live and silent auctions.
The money made from this event will go towards the Wildlife Center to continue helping needy animals.
Story by Jenny Hypes. Jenny can be reached at [email protected].