The Gail E. Abrams Wildlife Ambassador Fund

by Piedmont Wildlife Center
The Gail E. Abrams Wildlife Ambassador Fund

Hi Friends,


We have some sad news to share from Piedmont Wildlife Center. We are heartbroken to share that Bella, the great-horned owl, passed away earlier this month.


Bellatrix (Bella) was found in January 2014 in New Ellenton, SC, by the side of the road with a broken wing, likely from colliding with a car. Her injuries were treated at Carolina Raptor Center, but because she never fully regained her ability to fly, she could not be released. Bella arrived at Piedmont Wildlife Center in September of 2014. Over the next 8 years, she helped teach thousands of students and adults about the great-horned owl's importance in North Carolina, and inspired awe in everyone who looked into those big yellow eyes.


Most of our Ambassador Animals, including Bella, came to us from wildlife rehabilitators and other rescues. Their life histories before receiving treatment are usually unknown, and some have long-term health issues. It's our responsibility to give these beings the highest quality of life possible, from the minute they enter our care to their very last day with us.


We're able to do this because of YOUR support. Whether you worked with Bella as a volunteer, donated to our Wildlife Ambassador fund, or met her at a program, thank you for helping us tell her story, care for her, and keep her life intersting to the very end. 


We would love to see your pictures and hear your memories of Bella. If you would like to share, please email our Conservation Team at


Thank you for all of your support!

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Introducing PWC's newest animal ambassador, Garnet the corn snake! 


Garnet was adopted in December 2022 from BeWild Reptile Rescue in Durham, NC. He was surrendered to BeWild along with two other snakes, all of whom were stunted. Garnet is around 2 years old and is still a little wary of people but he's coming around. He recently made an appearance at our 20th Anniversary celebration! 

Like fellow corn snake ambassador Kellogg, Garnet will help teach people about his species, reasons to appreciate snakes, and importantly - how to distinguish corn snakes from copperheads. When not at programs, he can be found in his enclosure demonstrating corn snakes' knack for climbing trees.

Thank you for supporting the Gail E. Abrams Wildlife Ambassador Fund!

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Meet Pickles the Virginia Opossum, PWC's newest animal ambassador!


Pickles came to us in August from wildlife rehabilitation organization Our Wild Neighbors (OWN). She was found in the spring as an orphan, and a month later OWN began to notice she wasn't using her front right limb normally. A trip to the vet revealed premature closure of her radial growth plate, likely due to a previous injury. While not painful, this meant that she would never have complete mobility in that leg, so it was determined that she would not be able to survive in the wild but would make a great educational ambassador due to her calm behavior and comfort around humans.

Pickles is now about 8 months old and doing great! She is beloved by everyone here at PWC, and is extremely fond of breakfast. She spends her days napping in her hammock, eating snacks, and riding around on shoulders. She has a few programs under her belt and is comfortable with letting people get a closer look and even giving her a gentle touch.

We're excited to have Pickles on the PWC team to teach people about opossums. Thank you for supporting the Gail E. Abrams Wildlife Ambassador fund!

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It is with a heavy heart that we announce that Scout, the eastern gray squirrel, unexpectedly passed away in June. He had only been with PWC since May 2021, but he quickly earned a special place in our hearts with his silly antics, boundless energy, and unending love of snacks.
In early 2021, Scout’s rescuer found him acting abnormally at the base of a tree. Scout was brought to Our Wild Neighbors, where it was discovered he was blind. He would not have survived in the wild, so he was brought to PWC to educate people about the important role squirrels play in nature.
Despite his blindness and other neurological abnormalities, Scout led an exciting life at PWC. He never failed to make visitors and staff smile, whether at a birthday program, a classroom presentation, or a visit with kids at our camps. He even had the honor of having a special coffee blend at Gray Squirrel Coffee Co. named after him!
While we wish he could have spent more time with us, we understand that many of the animals in our care are with us because they have permanent injuries. We are so grateful for your contribution to the Gail E. Abrams Wildlife Ambassador Fund, which ensured that Scout's time with us was full of love, care, and purpose.
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Fieldtrip Set Up
Fieldtrip Set Up

With schools in full swing and people slowly finding balance after the pandemic, Piedmont Wildlife Center has had the opportunity to provide field trip opportunities to students all over the Triangle area. From small homeschool groups and neurodivergent classes to large school outings featuring over 80 student participants, the staff at Piedmont Wildlife Center has heard the drumming of footsteps and the excited voices of local kids.

Students that come to the wildlife center get to meet several of our wildlife ambassadors and explore the enclosures of our raptors. Our mammals—Pepper the Virginian opossum and Parsley the domesticated rabbit—are fan favorites among the kids. Apollo the barred owl gets quite a few “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience when he shows off his impressive plumage.

These programs are not just for admiring our ambassadors. Students get the opportunity to learn the life stories of each animal they meet, as well as interesting facts about its species. Students also learn about ways that they can help protect the wild cousins of our ambassadors. Our hope is that, through these field trips, the many kids that walk the trails at PWC will develop a love for nature and conservation that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.  

Pepper, the Virginian Opossum
Pepper, the Virginian Opossum
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Organization Information

Piedmont Wildlife Center

Location: Durham, NC - USA
Project Leader:
Karen McCall
Executive Director
Durham , NC United States
$10,635 raised of $20,000 goal
118 donations
$9,365 to go
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