We are excited to introduce our newest ambassador, Pumpkin the Virginia opossum! Pumpkin arrived at PWC in October of 2023. She and her siblings were found at a young age after their mother was hit by a car. Too small to be on their own, they went to the Opossum’s Pouch rehabbers in South Carolina. Pumpkin’s siblings got big enough to be released, but Pumpkin did not. She is less than a third of the size that she should be for her age. Due to her small size, she was deemed non-releasable.
Pumpkin has already proven to be an amazing ambassador. She is sweet and inquisitive, which makes her perfect for school programs. She boldly explores the table while we share facts and answer questions. Pumpkin also enjoys riding around on the presenter’s shoulders and getting mealworm treats.
By Kaitlin Saxton | Research and Husbandry Coordinator
Pepper was found as an orphaned baby opossum along with her sister in the spring of 2020. They were brought to a local rehabber where they were cared for until they reached an age that they could be released, but while Pepper’s sister grew to full size and was able to be released, Pepper stayed unusually small and rehabbers decided she may not survive in the wild due to her size. Pepper joined us as a PWC ambassador in September 2020.
In the wild, opossums live very short lives averaging only 1-2 years. In captivity their lifespan is somewhat extended, but only by a little and most captive opossums only make it to 3 or 4. At about 3.5 years old, Pepper is well into her senior days but still finds ways to surprise us. Her secret to great health starts in the kitchen, with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every day. Getting plenty of rest and exercise is also important, so she recently moved into a larger enclosure with more space to walk, climb, and take many, many naps in between doing programs to show people how great opossums are.
As the third anniversary of Pepper's Gotcha Day here at PWC rolls around, we're thankful that she's still with us and appreciate you for supporting the Gail E. Abrams Wildlife Ambassador Fund so that we can continue to provide her with the best food and care all the days of her life.
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 email@example.com.
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