Wildlife Center of Virginia seeking volunteers for busy spring baby season

wildlife center of virginiaThe Wildlife Center of Virginia is seeking volunteers to help care for the hundreds of spring babies that will soon flood the center’s clinic.

In 2019, the center, a leading teaching and research hospital for native wildlife located in Waynesboro, helped a record-setting 3,345 patients, including 490 Virginia opossums, 460 eastern cottontails, and 220 east gray squirrels.

Many of these mammals were orphaned or separated young animals, admitted in the spring, that were healthy but needed to be fed and cared for until they were old enough to be released back into the wild.

“Feeding these spring babies – the little opossums, rabbits, and squirrels – is a somewhat time-consuming but very rewarding part of our work at the Wildlife Center,” said Kelsey Pleasants, wildlife rehabilitator and head caregiver at the Wildlife Center.

Pleasants noted that orphan care is a large part of the center’s daily operation.

In the spring and summer, the center often cares for nearly 100 baby mammals at one time, in addition to a couple hundred patients also on the property.

The center is looking to recruit, train, and equip volunteer apprentices who can help with care and feeding of these hungry young animals as home-based wildlife rehabilitators, operating under a permit issued by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

“We will teach apprentices the skills they need to care for these young animals in their homes,” Pleasants said.

Individuals interested in learning more about this opportunity are asked to join center veterinary and rehabilitation staff for a one-hour orientation session, which will include a description of the requirements to become a center care apprentice and a permitted rehabilitator.

These sessions will be offered on:

  • Friday, March 6 at 10 a.m. and repeated again at 3 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 7 at 9:30 a.m.
  • Friday, March 20 at 10 a.m. and repeated again at 3 p.m.

The center’s Apprentice Care Program is open to individuals 18 years and older who are residents of Albemarle, Augusta, or Nelson Counties, or the Cities of Charlottesville, Staunton, or Waynesboro.

Additional information about the Wildlife Center is available at www.wildlifecenter.org. Questions and RSVPs to the Apprentice Orientation should be sent to vetvolunteer@wildlifecenter.org.

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