Most Wildlife Rehabs are volunteer organizations and only the very well funded can afford salaried positions, which sometimes happens where a facility is an extension of an established Veterinary Clinic, a Veterinary Teaching Hospital or other institution.
The Natural History Museum in Miami, Florida, for example, situated on the grounds of the beautiful Viscaya Estate off the Palmetto Expressway, has a small but expertly run Raptor Rehab and teaching facility. Neat, wooden mews house the individual birds and bow perches placed on the lawns, exhibit imperious mannered Great Horned Owls and hawks undergoing reconditioning and weathering. Gate receipts and a subsidy from the Museum supports its work. This is sadly not the general situation and the majority of wildlife Rehabs have to depend on the generosity of the public and donor agencies for funding and services.
We are no exception. We have no formal source of income and all our human resources are volunteered. We have a Board and a Management Committee who offer their time for meetings and decision making.
The work is essentially like that of an ER Department of a small hospital, with patients coming in, being treated, recuperating in hospital cages and undergoing weathering and reconditioning in large open flight cages.
That's the "fun" part. The rest is highly necessary and not such fun: Cages must be kept very clean and sanitary. "Tooz" and unused food must be removed and cleared up daily; bedding changed; bandages and dressings changed; water changed and dishes washed; all equipment must be sanitized and stowed. It involves quantities of bleach, rubber gloves, cleaning cloths, scouring pads, sponges, buckets, brooms and mops and old fashioned elbow grease.
Then there is the 'live-food' Department which comprises a mouse colony, an earthworm tank, fish tanks. and meal worm colonies. All of these must be managed. The mouse colony and fish are fed daily; the mouse pans need a bedding change every two days and the 'weaners' separated to form the food supply for the resident and recouperating raptors and mammal carnivores. The meal worms are fed to infant birds and are a daily 'treat' for the resident Lapwing. They must be 'watered' daily and fed every three to four days. In many Rehabs these Departments are Staffed by a Volunteer manager who is responsible solely for this and co-opts his/her own set of volunteers to assist.
There has been a steady succession of young volunteers in Centre, from nearby schools, the University and neighbouring residential areas, who have donated their time generously after School to do some of the chores and feeding. Each of these young people bring their own skills and enthusiasm to the task. One of these young Volunteers, Master Sabastian Lancer, was even able to provide valuable information on mixing cement and constructing flag stones for a path way!
An Earth Worm Breeding Programme was established in 2003 with the grade 5 Science Department of the International School of Port of Spain. This has had highly successful results and been an amazing teaching experience. It was designed as a cross curriculum project between the Maths, Science and English Departments and evolved as an ecology foundation, which included not only the research on the species, the sourcing and gathering of equipment, but preparation of data repleat with bar charts, graphs and reports. It also generated illustrated stories and a very impressive exhibition. Mrs. Sara M c Cartney has been the Co-ordinator of this project.
Food, medical supplies and equipment must be sourced and maintained.
Mrs. Ann Williams of C. Yip Choy Bailey has, for a number of years, been a faithful donor of chow and supplies withdrawn from the market due to damage. This helps tremendously to reduce the food bill in the mouse colony.
The fishermen of Carenage, particularly Baddo and Anna, Logie, Smile and Terry in the village, have been generous, cheerful and very helpful with supplies of fish for sea birds. They have many funny stories to tell of the requests from 'de pelican lady'.
The rescue department has a small cadre of volunteers who may be called in to assist with collecting stranded, misplaced or otherwise in-trouble wildlife. Ronny Moses and Hans Boos have been most reliable and dependable for their courage, resourcefulness and common sense in emergencies. They too have amusing stories to tell.
We have shared volunteers with AWN (The Animal Welfare Network) who have built up experience in the rescue of domestic animals in trouble.
Administrative needs must be met, letter writing, proposal writing, thank-you cards,and information collecting. A daily Log is maintained and notes and records compiled.
Accounts must be kept meticulously as we are audited annually. Miss Abidah Khan has generously spared us some of her very limited time to complete and prepare the books this year for Audit and the audit is being prepared by Michael Lee Kim and Co.
Much work is need in the fund raising area. Sara and Douglas Agostini have maintained a donation box on the counter of the Hott Shopp on Mucurapo Rd. This is tremendously helpful in meeting the recurrent expenditures of the food bill. Of course we could use a few more boxes in suitable sites.
An Education programme is in its planning stage. Currently a Power Point presentation is available and several schools around the country have been visited. It is hoped that with the required training of birds and handlers this programme could be expanded. Some of our resident birds are being trained and have already participated in several lecture appearances.
Maintenance department : Equipment and Materials must be sourced and regular repairs carried out. Boughs and logs are often required for perches and cage furniture. Very servicable PVC pipe perches were constructed, last year, by the two UWI volunteers who donated their Summer Vaccation to assisting at the Centre.
Many people have helped here, salvaging disused materials which they thought could be useful to us or collecting logs when a tree is felled in some public place .
Architect Beverley Hill provided all of the steel material from which the present hospital and flight cage is built and continues to be available for advice and suggestions when needed.
We have been very fortunate in having the skills of an amature falconer to help with the flight reconditioning of large raptors, and the making the essential equipment. Dr. Andres Freiberg, MD, Paedriatric Specialist at Mount Hope Hospital, has worked with the Argentine Andean Condor breeding and reintroduction programme at the Buenos Aires Zoo, and spent his spare time last Summer, cutting up strips of leather, punching out grommits and stitching gauntlets
Without these volunteer inputs the Center could not operate and all the mentioned departments require more help.
Ideally, each department should be staffed by a volunteer who co-ordinates his or her own set of volunteers on a roster basis and is responsible for its operation to the center Administrator.
We are not there yet, but we can get closer to our goals with your help. Use the contact information at the top of this page to find out how you can contribute.