Volunteers for Wildlife is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We always have patients in our hospital to care for in addition to our resident education animals that make their home at our center. In the late spring and summer, our staff arrive at our hospital at 7 AM and close up at 7 PM (often later with late in the day admissions.) In the fall, winter and early spring, our hours are 7 AM to 5 PM. While we have scheduled hours, wildlife rehabilitation is an around the clock field and work often extends beyond our workday. We must be ready for a new arrival at any time and examine, treat and set up new arrivals constantly throughout the day.
Our mornings are fast paced and very busy! We start our day every morning bright and early at 7 AM! We turn on all the lights, start the background noise machines and start the laundry. Our staff rehabilitators gather for rounds and we divide responsibilities for the day for our rehabilitators, interns and volunteers. All of of our diurnal (daytime) patients are cared for in the morning. First, we care for our youngest babies and most critical patients and then our older and more stable patients. Every animal will be weighed, fed and have their enclosure cleaned in the morning. We take careful observations on all of our patients, look at how much they are eating, how they are healing and ultimately making sure they are progressing towards release. As you provide care to the patients, you will be keeping an eye on the laundry (putting new loads in to wash/dry/folding as needed), washing dishes and keeping your work space very clean! In the spring and summer months, staff and interns caring for our young babies will be feeding those babies on a cycle of every thirty minutes to every few hours depending on the age and type of animal.
The middle of the day is often a little slower than our fast paced mornings. This allows us a break to feed ourselves and then we get back to work! Like us, our patients also like to eat! Many of the animals will have their food replenished mid-day and the babies always require more feedings. We spend some time in the middle of the day preparing diets and food for later in the day or the next day. We also catch up on laundry, sweep, mop, do dishes. Everyone helps with these responsibilities from our volunteers to our supervisors! During the middle of the day, you also may have the opportunity to help a staff member working on a special project, help to set up unoccupied enclosures, assist with exams for new arrivals or may even have the opportunity to assist on a release!
Like the beginning of the day, the late afternoon and evenings are also busy. We make sure all of our patients have nice, clean enclosures and plenty of food for the nighttime. Day End is also when we provide our nocturnal patients with care. We wait till later in the day to care for these patients so we don’t disrupt their natural behavior and sleep cycle! At the end of the day, everyone pitches in to make sure the center is clean and organized for the next day. We make sure all food is prepared as needed so we are ready to go come morning. In the last few minutes, we medicate our patients and make sure everyone is secure for the overnight. We lock the doors and head home to rest up for another exciting day!