May 21, 2015

We've Moved! New Sanctuary Receives First Patients

Completed Sanctuary Building
Completed Sanctuary Building

WE'RE IN! For now, there is nothing more exciting for Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary staff, board and volunteers than being in our new Sanctuary building. It is beautiful and the whole place just feels right. There are animal babies there - 89 in residence to date - among them: opossum, fledgling songbirds, goslings, ducklings, and one solitary mouse.The new building's nurseries are larger and better equipped, and it is satisfying to see the space being used to rescue the spring's influx of baby animals. The porches on the building call to you - sit, sway in a rocking chair, consider the woods. Outdoors, a big striped turtle lounges in his pool, and nearby, construction continues on the species-specific enclosures for older animals that are growing and awaiting release. The place is fantastic and RWS is grateful for all that our GlobalGiving donors did to make it happen.

A FLOCK OF FOXES THIS SPRING: Who can resist a red fox? Not many and no one can resist a red fox kit, all puff ball, bright eyes! RWS is caring for seven red fox kits this spring. They are all in good health and growing fast. Soon, they will move into a dedicated fox den at the new facility, where they will get strong and prepare for their release.

UNUSUAL JANUARY VISITOR: This Horned Grebe landed in a field in central Virginia and got picked on by a bunch of crows. Usually, these waterbirds winter over in coastal Virginia or North Carolina or inland farther south. So, this lovely red-eyed bird got off track, perhaps thinking the field was a source of fresh water. Thankfully, her rescuer protected her from the crows and brought her to RWS where she was cared for and released a few days later. Horned Grebes get their name from the tufts of yellow feathers that jut out from behind the male’s eyes. In summer, they prefer smaller freshwater ponds in the far north, feeding on aquatic insects, fish and small crustaceans. The babies ride on the backs of the mother Grebe, even going underwater when she dives for food among the grasses!

ONGOING NEEDS: As we celebrate the generosity that has allowed the construction of the new Sanctuary, fundraising continues to complete the outdoor enclosures, and for daily operations. We are thankful to all the donors who have made this wonderful success possible -- we would not be in the new building without you.

Red Fox Kit - one of six this spring
Red Fox Kit - one of six this spring
Horned Grebe showing characteristic red eye
Horned Grebe showing characteristic red eye
Jan 2, 2015

Raccoons Growing Fast; A Baby Bat Far from Home, and the Final Phase Begins

Raccoons enjoying their outdoor enclosure
Raccoons enjoying their outdoor enclosure

When a tiny bat was found outside an apartment building in Charlottesville, the little bat could not be reuinited with its mother. It was brought to Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, where rehabilitator Jessie Cole started the bat on fluids; then staff and volunteers fed the bat every two hours, day and night, to mimic conditions in the wild.

Our rehabilitators determined that it was a Brazilian free-tailed bat — common in the western United States, but never before recorded as living in Virginia. They contacted the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, who sent an expert to try to determine if any free-tails lived where this little one was found. There was no evidence of an established free-tail bat population, so RWS coordinated its rescue efforts with renowned bat rehabilitator Leslie Sturges in Northern Virginia. Leslie is now raising this special visitor, and, when the little bat is ready to be released, will drive it out west to join larger populations of its species.

Raccoons are among the more common animals cared for at Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary. When they are brought to RWS as babies, they have a relatively long length of stay. It is important that when they are old enough, the majority of their care be provided outdoors, so that the sounds and smells of the woods are comfortable and homey for them. Prior to being released into the wild, animals rehabbing at RWS spend weeks in outdoor enclosures, as these racoons are doing, enjoying natural space, air, light, and weather as they grow and heal.

The baby bat and juvenile racoons are just two stories of many with happy endings. You have helped RWS help a record number of animals in 2014. We’ve cared for over 750 orphaned and injured wildlife patients this year, a 20% increase over our previous record. Thank you for helping us achieve this growth! 

The new Sanctuary building is complete. The occupancy permit has been issued, and the structure is beautiful. Next, the specialized outdoor enclosures for animal care and recuperation will be constructed to complete the project.  Our plan is to complete construction of the enclosures over the winter and to be ready for the busy spring season in the new Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary.

We have come a long way... and our goal is in sight!  Support from GlobalGiving donors has been a real boost to our efforts, and we are very grateful. Thank you for your ongoing support at this exciting time.

New Building with Occupancy Permit
New Building with Occupancy Permit
Tiny Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat in Hand
Tiny Brazilian Free-Tailed Bat in Hand
Sep 9, 2014

A Dramatic Rescue + New Sanctuary Almost Finished!

Rescued from roadkill-now a second chance at life.
Rescued from roadkill-now a second chance at life.

A SAVVY SAMARITAN

One morning on the way to work, a Virginia woman spotted a dead opossum by the side of the road. Pulling over, she looked for babies in the female's pouch. Six had already died, but one was clinging to life. The quick-thinking rescuer, knowing that warmth was critical, put the baby opossum in her shirt, and drove directly to Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary.

At RWS, wildlife rehabilitators continued to warm the animal and administered electrolytes. Later when the opposum was stable, they began hand-feeding with special formula. After two weeks of hand-feeding and growing, its eyes opened and the opposum was ready to be offered solid foods. These included fruits, vegetables, calcium enriched mice and high-quality dog food. 

Now, after six weeks of care, the opposum (pictured above) is healthy, growing, and on track to be released. Until then, it stays with other orphaned opossums its own age until they all are mature enough for release.

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

Great progress has been made on the new Sanctuary building (see photo below). Septic, driveway, plumbing fixtures and appliances are still needed before an occupancy permit will be issued. We are looking forward with excitement to the building's completion, and the increase in capacity it will bring. 

Already this year Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary has cared for over 700 animals -- a new record.  It is clear that the new building is much needed. 

We are very grateful to all of the donors who have helped us get this far! Donations for construction are still needed, and we would be very thankful for your help.

Progress on the new RWS Sanctuary continues!
Progress on the new RWS Sanctuary continues!

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