Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital

Fellow Mortals is more than a place. It is a living philosophy based on the belief that encouraging compassion in humans toward all life brings out the finest aspects of our humanity. Fellow Mortals provides excellent medical care to injured and orphaned wild animals entrusted to the hospital by the public. Fellow Mortals continues to advance treatment for the most critically injured and compromised animals admitted for care, demonstrated by a continued high rate of recovery and release back to the wild. Fellow Mortals also attempts to limit the number of animals admitted for care each year by offering public education to prevent unnecessary injury and orphaning, thereby reducing the total n...
Jul 23, 2014

Working for Tomorrow

Kim with Infant Beaver
Kim with Infant Beaver

If only we didn't need to sleep!  This is something we often exclaim during the busy spring and summer at Fellow Mortals.  People have asked if we know how many steps we take in a day, since we move and walk nearly non-stop for up to 19 hours during our longest shifts.

Fellow Mortals is one of the largest and busiest wildlife hospitals in the nation,.  Open 365 days a year, including holidays, the animals brought to us for care stay on site from initial admit to release.  Some patients' stays are relatively short; others can last more than a year.  Our hospital covers nearly 5,000 square feet of purpose-built clinic space, with another four acres of specialized habitats outdoors.  Preparing food, feeding babies, cleaning kennels or scrubbing pools, taking x-rays, mopping, doing laundry, returning phone calls and meeting new people--it's all in every day's routine.

Summer 2014 has been exceptionally and unusually busy for us.  As I write at the peak of our season, we have over 400 animals in care of dozens of species, including ground squirrels, purple martins, rabbits, ducklings, hummingbirds, goslings, owlets, gulls and deer.  Every species of animal has come in greater numbers than in years past, meaning that it takes many more people-hours to care for them all.

In addition to the over 2,000 animals who will find their way into our care this year--the majority of which will be successfully returned to the wild, at least that many more have been kept with their wild parents as a result of education and advice given to caring people who called for help when they found what they believed was an orphaned animal.

Why are we so busy?  Many species of wildlife are thriving, even as habitat is lost to development, but the real reason we are busier than ever is because the number the wildlife rehabilitators has been decreasing steadily since the 'boom' of rehabilitators entering the field in the 1980's, when Fellow Mortals first opened its doors.  Looking just within a 30-mile radius of our hospital, where there were once 15 licensed wildlife rehabiliators, only five remain.

We are concerned about the loss of professionals in our field, especially because awareness and concern for wildlife and the environment mean that the services rehabilitators provide are needed more than ever.  While the internships we offer during the summer are vital to providing care for the hundreds of orphans brought to us, they are also very important in terms of providing an opportunity for interested people to gain exposure and experience in the field.  Since 1992, 66 interns have amassed over 80,000 hours of hands-on experience with injured and orphaned wildlife through Fellow Mortals' internship program.  Some of these alumni have become rehabilitators, some veterinarians, others work in zoos or aquariums and some are doing research.  Regardless of their profession, they have all become advocates for wildlife and the environment.

If you're reading this report, it's because you've made a gift to support our mission, a mission that includes helping to train the wildlife rehabilitators of tomorrow.

Thank you for supporting our work.

Nestling Cooper
Nestling Cooper's hawks
Tyler feeding infant Cottontail
Tyler feeding infant Cottontail
Three friends
Three friends
Christina with young opossum
Christina with young opossum
Days-old White-tail deer fawn
Days-old White-tail deer fawn
Jun 17, 2014

A Very Special Baby

Baby Beaver on arrival, one week old
Baby Beaver on arrival, one week old

"I have a gift for you!" exclaimed Mark Naniot of Wild Instincts, a wildlife hospital in northern Wisconsin, when he called.  He had just received a newborn orphaned beaver kit from a member of the public, umbilical cord still attached.  Mark knows that Fellow Mortals works regularly with beaver and that we have a single beaver in care we hope to put with another before eventual release back to the wild. 

We decided to have Mark stabilize the baby at his hospital before having the little one transferred down to us, as it would involve a more than 6-hour travel time for the delicate orphan.  Any newborn animal is fragile and we have found newborn beaver to be especially susceptible to complications due to inability to thermoregulate and stomach upset from change in formula, so it made sense not to add any additional stress to what an orphaned wild baby was already experiencing from being separated from its parents.  One week later, after the baby had stabilized, volunteers from Wild Instincts met our volunteer at a half-way point to hand off the special patient for transport the rest of the way to Fellow Mortals for care. 

Fellow Mortals has cared for over 40,000 wild animals in the last nearly 30 years, but only 7 infant beaver, making this little one a very special patient.  As soon as (she) arrived, we began the process of getting her adjusted to her new caregivers and surroundings and getting her back on schedule for feedings and bathing (beaver go to the bathroom in the water and must have access to water after every feeding).

The baby has been with us nearly two weeks now and is doing quite well, having gained close to 200 grams from her admit weight and looking and acting like a healthy baby.  Little bites of willow and yam are enjoyed inbetween formula feedings and her baths are getting bigger and deeper.  (We haven't yet determined the sex, which will be done by x-ray when the little one is about a month old.  Sex organs are internal in beaver.)

In the wild, beaver stay with their parents until they are two years old, when they leave to find territories and build lodges of their own.  Anyone who has ever raised a baby beaver understands exactly why this is so, as the kits cannot be left unsupervised without getting into trouble if they venture alone into deep water.  The yearling beaver are essentially mom and dad's babysitters during their time at home.  Beaver family are very close-knit and this intelligent species spends hours every day in social grooming, as the animals are very tactile.

In July 2012, Fellow Mortals released another hand-raised baby who had been paired with a yearling.  Today, they are doing well at the pond where they were released.  We are still waiting to see if they might have had babies of their own this year.  The link mentioned provides more information about their story.

Making the kind of commitment it takes to raise beaver from infants to release is only possible because of the support of special individuals and foundations who provide the funds to build the specialized habitats needed by these aquatic mammals, and the donations that help purchase the food consumed by these unique animals.  One beaver will eat a pound of spinach, two large yams, an ear of corn and two apples every day while in care.  The cost of food alone for one beaver in rehabilitation is nearly $5,000. 

While we have large habitats with pools deep enough for diving, our dream is to build an even larger aquatic mammal habitat for this special species.  We'll keep you updated as this project progresses.

Time to sign off for now, the baby beaver's next feeding is just two minutes away!

Bath time
Bath time
Sweet dreams
Sweet dreams

Links:

Apr 7, 2014

New Life, Renewed Promise

Hand-feeding infant squirrel
Hand-feeding infant squirrel

With the warmth of spring, the door literally opens to a new beginning for dozens of wild creatures who spent the winter healing.  In the last couple of weeks, we have returned red-tailed hawks back to their homes, set migrating songbirds and ducks on their way to their breeding grounds and moved more animals along the path back to eventual freedom.  Give yourself a pat on the back for helping to make this possible!

The first babies of the year came to Fellow Mortals as a large nest of eight 'pinkie' squirrels weighing just 2/3 of an ounce.   These little ones are helpless if something happens to their nest or mom and are some of the most critical patients we see, requiring frequent and late-night feedings and strict hygiene to keep them healthy.  We're happy to say that 10 days later they are all gaining weight and doing well.

After the first squirrels came our first orphaned owls, with two nestling who were injured after their nest was blown out of a tall pine tree.  The babies were alone for awhile before they were found and were very hungry, as well as injured.  One baby had a sprained 'ankle;' the other sustained fractures to both ulnas (a bone in the wing).  Wild creatures are incredibly resilent and both little ones responded well to treatment and are healing while eating up to 12 mice each per day.  They are nearly ready to join our foster owl, Alberta, who adopts the young owls who need us, providing an important role model for them as they learn to act like an owl, talk like an owl, and hunt so that they can survive when they have matured for release.

After the long harsh winter, the first babies of the year are a welcome sign of the awakening earth, filling us with anticipation for all that is to come.  Every year we make a new promise to the wild ones who will need us--to provide the best nutrition, care, facilities and medical care possible, in order to give each individual a real chance to heal and grow and return to the wild where it belongs.  Thanks to you, we know this is a promise we can keep.

Orphaned great horned owls
Orphaned great horned owls
Wood ducks soon to be released
Wood ducks soon to be released
Red-tailed hawk returns to her home
Red-tailed hawk returns to her home
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