PAWS Magazine


Issue 49, Summer 2001


From the Heart

In this issue we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the PAWS Wildlife Center. Since that wonderful beginning in 1981, we have grown from helping 600 animals our first year to helping more than 6000 last year. And in that two decades, while the intent—offering care for injured and orphaned wildlife—has stayed the same, the work itself, and its context, has changed significantly.

Wildlife rehabilitation used to be an avocation, or calling, carried out by well-meaning people with very limited resources, usually working out of their homes, often unconnected to sources of information and support. Today, it is a growing profession, working closely with state and federal agencies and in partnerships with other organizations, and a respected part of mainstream efforts to understand and help wildlife.

Perhaps the biggest area of change has been in education, as rehabilitators increasingly understand the importance of changing how people live with and experience wildlife in their everyday lives. Today, we are reaching out to the general public to increase their awareness and understanding of wildlife. And rehabilitators don’t just help individual animals in need; they help other people working with wildlife. Our staff are actively involved in teaching rehabilitation and wildlife veterinary medicine across North America through lectures, presentations, publications, courses and consulting.

Today, wildlife rehabilitation has two national professional associations, annual symposia and conferences, published journals and proceedings, a manual of principles and a set of standards for care. This year will see the formation of a state wildlife rehabilitation network in Washington. And we continue to improve diets, caging, and veterinary and rehabilitation care.

Wildlife rehabilitation is still, at its most fundamental level, about connectedness, about compassion, about understanding how everything we do affects other living things. It is about our being part of nature, not apart from the natural world in which we live and from which we draw our very sustenance and breath. It is learning about shared lives, a process that informs us, enlightens us, and can delight and transport us.

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
T.S. Elliot

Kip Parker,
Director, PAWS Wildlife Department

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