It’s “Baby Season” at Volunteers for Wildlife (VFW) and the Wildlife Hotline is ringing off-the-hook about thousands of injured and orphaned baby animals on Long Island from Queens to Western Suffolk. These wild babies can include cottontail kits injured during yard work and orphaned opossum joeys whose mother was hit by a car. After months of intensive care at VFW’s Rehabilitation Hospital these wild animals are released when they are deemed fully independent and able to thrive in the wild.
It was during “Baby Season” twenty-one years ago that they received a call about a baby red-tailed hawk who had fallen out of his nest. When he arrived at the Wildlife Hospital, his neck was twisted so badly that his ear sat directly over his shoulder. Because of his young age and the amount of human contact needed to treat such a severe injury, this baby hawk became imprinted on people and could not be released back into the wild.
It was soon decided that this little baby would join the Education Department as an Animal Ambassador. He was socialized to the Wildlife Educators and trained to wear jesses (little leashes that resident raptors wear on their ankles) and perch on a glove. As a new Animal Ambassador, he needed a name, and “Baby” just stuck. Baby has been traveling on education programs alongside other Animal Ambassadors, telling the story of Long Island’s wildlife to the public ever since.
Volunteers for Wildlife’s Rehabilitation Hospital & Education Center (VFW) is located at Bailey Arboretum in Locust Valley. Approximately 2,300 injured and orphaned animals are treated every year at the Hospital. Countless more are triaged through the Hotline, which receives over 10,000 calls. VFW also offers educational programs to schools, scouts, libraries, community organizations and private parties.
Visit www.volunteersforwildlife.org to learn more about their services and educational programs such as the new Guided Meet & Greets in the wintery Wildlife Garden.
The Wildlife Hotline is 516-674-0982 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow VFW on www.facebook.com/VolunteersforWildlife and www.instagram.com/volunteersforwildlife/.