Every day PAWS’ Wildlife Rehabilitation Center handles emergency medical cases that make the average TV hospital drama pale in comparison. The center features a surgery suite—the scene of life-saving operations to repair broken bones or remove ingested fish hooks, for example; a small lab for blood work or identifying parasites and toxins; and an X-ray room. Recovery pens and “long-term care wards” are available for more extensive care. We present an episode from PAWS Wildlife ER:
6:30 a.m. First shift for the wildlife rehabilitators begins, with several hundred animals to prepare food for, medicate and clean up after. Thankfully, volunteers arrive at 7 a.m.
9:15 a.m. Case conference: the rehabilitation team determines that eight orphaned raccoons are ready to graduate from the mammal nursery to the new outdoor, pre-release enclosures. Initially nervous, they soon explore the branches and hammocks—playtime!
11:33 a.m. A Pine Siskin is rushed to the center after being attacked by a cat. An X-ray reveals her right wing is fractured. (Fortunately, after antibiotics and time to heal, the Pine Siskin makes a full recovery.)
12.45 p.m. Time to scrub in: the wildlife veterinarian performs a lengthy and delicate surgery to remove buckshot from the chest of a Great Blue Heron.
3 p.m. A juvenile Bald Eagle starts his rehabilitation therapy. He is carefully placed in the flight pen to exercise and recondition his wing muscles.
4:45 p.m. A deer fawn arrives. The center is now at full capacity for deer, with five fawns admitted. He will receive excellent care at PAWS, but mom would have done a much better job raising her little one.
6:00 p.m. After nearly a week as an in-patient, a beaver quickly paddles away from the carrier (and the PAWS naturalist who transported him) into Lake Washington. Found in Puget Sound, he had become sick from the saltwater and simply needed time to rehydrate and regain strength.
7:45 p.m. The center receptionist helps a caller who phoned in to learn practical and humane tips for discouraging bats from making a home of her attic.
10:30 p.m. As volunteers finish up the 20th load of cage bedding laundry, staff make sure animals are secured in their enclosures and close down the center for the night. Tomorrow, it all begins again...