Raging Wildfires in Chile Affect Wildlife

Since early January Chile has been facing the worst forest fires it has ever seen in modern history, with ~2300 sq miles of land destroyed, thousands of people evacuated and 11 human deaths. The Chilean government has declared state of emergency in several areas, which have been receiving support from official emergency agencies, international help, and volunteers.

This is a catastrophe: it can be described as a chain of wildfires, which have overwhelmed national services. Communities have lost their houses (more that 7,000 are homeless), their livelihoods destroyed (vineyards, tree plantations, etc), and many domestic animals have died or been injured.

A silent victim of these fires are wild animals. Chile does not have the richness of other Latin American countries such as Brazil or Colombia; but the affected area has a unique level of endemism. In fact, the most affected species are the ones with limited displacements, especially amphibians and reptiles which are also the two groups with higher endemism in the country. The Lolol Lizard (Liolaemus confusus), was just recently described as a species and with a species home range of only aprox 5 km2. The entirety of its known distribution has been destroyed by the fires; the species may be facing a real threat of extinction. Luckily, the National Service of Agriculture and Livestock (SAG) together with the National Zoo captured 20 individuals from the fires.

Three people giving aid to a Lycalopex sp while a fourth individual observes.
Emergency care being given to a Lycalopex sp Photo Credit Colegio Médico Veterinario de Chile A.G.

 

Harris hawk parabuteo unicinctus in care. Photo Credit Colegio Médico Veterinario de Chile A.G.
Examination of a culpeo or Andean fox Lycalopex culpaeus) Photo Credit Chilean National Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most wild animals caught in the fire have likely died; amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates may not be able to escape. But other species can escape. Survivors have been found by the authorities, NGOs and the community. Huge efforts have been initiated to capture these survivors and treat them accordingly. Most of these survivors are represented by mesocarnivores such as foxes (Lycalopex sp.), lesser grisson (Galictis cuja), and small felids. Most of these individuals have been taken to rehabilitation centers such as UFAS and the National Zoo, and have been treated in emergency facilities implemented with the cooperations of the national association of veterinarians (COLMEVET), National Zoo, national association of wildlife veterinarians (AMEVEFAS), NGOs, among others.

All fires are not yet extinguished. At the moment, more than 50 fires are active (original number was over 90 by some accounts); people and animals are still threatened by the flames. Who is to blame? Probably, it is a multifactorial chain that involves humans (both intentional arson and negligent behaviors), the extensive plantations of exotic and pyrogenetic species for wood and forestry, inadequate territorial planning, climate change, and poor/belated response of authorities.

How can you help?

There are many campaigns to receive help and support from national and international individuals. If you want to directly help animals, contact COLMEVET (National Association of Veterinarians), which is the official institution organizing the help for all animals in need. You can donate urgently needed funds via COLMEVET's international GoFundMe campaign. To donate directly to wild animals, make explicit note of this in the comment field during the donation process.

Update 2/5/17: State of emergency has ended with 8 of the remaining fires being actively combated and the remaining fires extinguished or under control

The What, Why, and How of SOPs

Reprinted with permission from WRNBC Network News 30(2) of the Wildlife Rehabilitator's Network of British Columbia

by Ana Mendes

What is an SOP?

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of fixed instructions or steps for carrying out routine operations. These rules provide structure and framework to an organization with multiple employees and/or volunteers.

Alternative paperwork:
Protocols: detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment or procedure
Policies: course or principle of action adopted or proposed by an organization or individual
Procedure: who, what, where, when and how a task should be completed

  • Scope: What is the intention/purpose of the procedure
  • Responsibility: Who performs the procedure
  • PPE: Necessary safety equipment
  • Materials: Items needed to perform the procedure
  • References: Any external resources or guides used
  • Definitions: Any special terminology used that needs clarification for the user
  • Procedure: Step-by-step how-to list for completing the task

How to write an SOP:

With pen and paper in hand, sit and think. Go through the motions of the procedure and jot down in point form the steps you are going through from start to finish. Next, open up the template and begin to fill in the ‘easy’ categories (PPE and materials). Type out your quick list in the procedural category. If you can come up with a scope or responsibility at this time, go ahead, though it may be easier to leave for last. Gather your references if needed and start writing out each procedural step in full. Make sure to document your references.

Congratulations, your rough draft is complete! Now you can review it several times, have peers and managers review it, and edit it as needed. When finished, print the final draft, sign it and have the manager sign it so it can be filed away in an SOP manual.

Why develop an SOP?

An SOP will serve as framework for organizational policy – providing direction and structure. Having SOPs will provide written documentation of best practice, recording present knowledge and experience for other rehabilitators. SOPs can build a foundation for job descriptions, training, disciplinary action and performance review.

Building a SOP library will begin to standardize processes, assuring consistent work across employees and volunteers. The resource that SOPs provide reduces questions and improves training practices. These SOPs can be shared across centres, improving best care practices. Expectations of employees can be documented using SOPs, keeping workers accountable and ensuring best patient care by providing step by step instructions.

Helpful hints:

Start with what you have. Use current protocols or start with small daily tasks that you are confident performing (e.g. cleaning songbird enclosures). Find where your task fits. Not everything needs an SOP; surgeries and rescues cannot be predicted and therefore cannot have SOPs. When a task includes “ifs,” a policy or protocol may be more fitting.

WRA Example SOP on fecal flotations

Together, we give knowledge

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Thank goodness Black Friday and Cyber Monday are followed globally (71 countries and counting!) by #GivingTuesday, a day of social giving and philanthropy.

"As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another.”

Teach a man to fish  =  Train a wildlife rehabilitator

The old adage holds true. TEACHING is powerful.

Instructor Kelli Knight and a student viewing parasite images in a microscope.
Instructor Kelli Knight and a student discuss microscope slides during the summer 2016 Parasitology lab in Brunei.

$200 provides basic professional training to a practitioner of wildlife rehabilitation. The best thing about education? It doesn’t go away. That $200 of knowledge will help a rehabilitator properly care for two hundred animals each year for many years to come. Over ten years that $200 helps 2000 animals!

Speaking of fish…IWRC has embarked on a new adventure in wildlife nutrition training. The old one day class and static manual are being turned into an interactive two day course with an accompanying revised manual and a workbook. This #GivingTuesday I’m challenging our community to raise $2500, matched DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR by an anonymous board member.

Recent Journal Abstracts Issue 36(3)

The full papers can be found in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation 36(3), available to all IWRC members.

AN ANALYSIS OF JUVENILE RED FOX BEHAVIOR IN RESPONSE TO AMBIENT TEMPERATURE CHANGES IN AN OUTDOOR PRE-RELEASE ENCLOSURE

Cale Matesic and Esther Finegan

ABSTRACT: The behavioral responses of 7 red fox kits to temperature changes in an outdoor enclosure were recorded for 2 weeks prior to release. Images of the animals were captured by thermal imaging and behavior was documented through observation from outside their enclosure. At ambient air temperatures ranging from 20-23°C, red fox kits exhibited natural wild behavior (walking, running, eating, playing). At higher temperatures, 26-28°C, red fox kits began exhibiting potentially thermally related behaviors including lying with their loins exposed. This analysis suggests that there may be benefits for larger, better ventilated outdoor enclosures for red fox rehabilitation so that confined areas of increased temperature can be avoided.

KEY WORDS: behavior, southern Ontario, red fox, rehabilitation, thermoregulation, Vulpes vulpes, welfare, wildlife

 

CAUSES OF STRANDING AND MORTALITY, AND FINAL DISPOSITION OF LOGGERHEAD SEA TURTLES (CARETTA CARETTA) ADMITTED TO A WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTER IN GRAN CANARIA ISLAND, SPAIN (1998-2014): A LONG-TERM RETROSPECTIVE STUDY

Jorge Orós, Natalia Montedeoca, María Camacho, Alberto Arencibia, and Pascual Calabuig

ABSTRACT

Aims: The aims of this study were to analyze causes of stranding of 1,860 loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) admitted at the Tafira Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Gran Canaria Island, Spain from 1998 to 2014, and to analyze outcomes of the rehabilitation process to allow auditing of its quality.

Methods: Primary causes of morbidity were classified into seven categories. Final dispositions were calculated as euthanasia (Er), unassisted mortality (Mr), and release (Rr) rates. Time to death (Td) for euthanized and dead turtles, and length of stay for released (Tr) turtles were evaluated.

Results: The most frequent causes of morbidity were entanglement in fishing gear and/ or plastics (50.81%), unknown/undetermined (20.37%), and ingestion of hooks (11.88%). The final disposition of the 1,634 loggerhead turtles admitted alive were: Er = 3.37%, Mr = 10.34%, and Rr = 86.29%. Er was higher in the trauma category (18.67%) than in other causes of admission. The highest Mr was for turtles admitted due to trauma (30.67%). The highest Rr was in crude oil (93.87%) and entanglement (92.38%) categories. Conclusions: This survey, the first large-scale epidemiological study on causes of stranding and mortality of Eastern Atlantic loggerheads, demonstrates that at least 71.72% of strandings have anthropogenic causes. The high Rr emphasizes the importance of marine rehabilitation centers in conservation. The stratified analysis by causes of admission of final disposition rates and parameters Td and Tr should be included in the outcome research of the rehabilitation process of sea turtles to allow comparative studies between marine rehabilitation centers around the world.

Reprint: PLoS One. 2016 Feb 22;11(2): e0149398. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone. 0149398. eCollection 2016.

More from Dr. Ulrike Streicher: Cambodian Intermezzo

Following her amazing work in Vietnam (read more here), Dr. Ulrike Streicher continued her journey in Cambodia. Along with her work at the University of Oregon, Dr. Streicher is also currently volunteering her time as the veterinarian for the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. Originally from Germany, Dr. Streicher not only holds a DVM from Freie Universität Berlin, she also accomplished a PhD from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München. Her dissertation was on the ecology and conservation of the pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) in Vietnam. She is a member of the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians, the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group as well as the Primate Specialist Group. Learn about her experience in Cambodia below.

A gloved Uli checks the mouth of a primate that is lying on an examination table.
Dental check of a pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina)

 

While I had only intended to spend one year in Vietnam, it had become eight. The Endangered Primate Rescue Center had grown into the region’s leading primate rescue facility, and steps for a reintroduction programme for the first captive bred primates were on the way. However, being the sole veterinarian working in this field in the area, I felt isolated, missed colleagues, and felt the work I was doing was minimal. When there were no new animals arriving, there was often little for a veterinarian to do. Money was always tight and not enough veterinary work to really justify investing in the expansion of the veterinary side. So, when I heard that the much larger Phnom Tamao Rescue Center in Cambodia was looking for an international veterinarian, I bid my forest home in Vietnam farewell.

The Phnom Tamao Rescue Center is located about 30 miles outside Phnom Penh. Originally just the country’s national zoo, the facility also started to take on the role as Cambodia’s main wildlife rescue center. In Cambodia, an NGO called Wildlife Alliance runs a very effective programme to combat illegal wildlife trade. Instead of setting up its own facility, this organization supports the existing national facility with staff and finances so it can act as a rescue center as well. As a result, Phnom Tamao is home to one of the most comprehensive collection of Indochinese animals.

The head and shoulders are shown of a serow being transported in the back of a pickup enclosed in a large bamboo structure.
Arrival of a elusive forest dweller - a Sumatran serow (Capricornis sumatraensis)

When I joined the Wildlife Alliance team in 2006, this rescue center was extremely busy. It kept about 1,200 animals, from birds to reptiles to all possible mammals, amongst them over 100 Malayan sun bears and Asian black bears due to the cooperation with the NGO Free the Bears. One day, the center would receive 50 hill mynah hatchlings, the next day a sun bear cub, then a tiny elephant with a missing foot or a huge python. Here I was not the only veterinarian but working with a Cambodian colleague. We had a small, reasonably equipped clinic and a quarantine area, fenced off from the rest of the center, which comprised about 20 smaller cages, basins and ponds. Everything had to be flexible to be able to hold maybe a small carnivore this week, perhaps some pigeons or a primate the next. Thanks to nearby Thailand, the necessary veterinary drugs were easily available and we were able to get our laboratory work done at the Institute Pasteur. I was good with the blow dart, but I also learned to appreciate skillful manual handling of wild animals, as anaesthetics were expensive. The dedicated international animal husbandry team working there had done a great job training their Cambodian colleagues, and I had a team, which could capture almost anything without injury to people or animals. The work was fascinating and the days were long, hot, hard and exciting.

Unfortunately, Wildlife Alliance had a fall out with the Cambodian government about financial issues and after I had been there for only one and a half years, the project was suspended and its continuation was unclear. During this time I was offered a wildlife rescue position in Laos and as the future of my position in Cambodia was insecure, I accepted the offer. Wildlife Alliance came to an agreement with the Cambodian government several months later and their valuable work to combat illegal wildlife trade and rescue illegally traded wildlife continues until today without further problems.
Watch out for more to come from Dr. Streicher and her incredible wildlife rescue work in Southeast Asia!

Recent Journal Abstracts Issue 36(2)

The full papers can be found in the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation 36(2), available to all IWRC members.

CASE STUDY: IATROGENIC DIABETES MELLITUS IN A KOALA (PHASCOLARCTOS CINEREUS) RECEIVING TREATMENT WITH PREDNISOLNE

Sheridan E Lathe

ABSTRACT: Diabetes mellitus is a well recognized condition in human and veterinary medicine that can be induced by the administration of glucocorticoids. Prednisolone is a glucocorticoid used to treat inflammation in koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). A free-living koala from the South Australian Mount Lofty Ranges population received treatment with prednisolone for the treatment of pruritis and skin inflammation. Clinical signs of diabetes mellitus developed in this koala during treatment with prednisolone and resolved after cessation of treatment.

KEY WORDS: Australia, diabetes, iatrogenic diabetes mellitus, koala, prednisolone

CAPTIVE ENRICHMENT FOR OWLS (STRIGIFORMES)
Aurora Potts

ABSTRACT: Owls (Strigiformes) have been a source of fascination for wildlife rehabbers, zookeepers, falconers, and many others throughout history. They can be slow to learn and difficult to work with. Their behavior is quite different from diurnal raptors because of their unique nocturnal adaptations. Given their popularity as education and flight demonstration birds, captive owls offer researchers and observers a chance to observe how these animals interact with the world around them. Enrichment is an important component of keeping any animal mentally and physically healthy in captivity, but devising enrichment for owls can be challenging. A survey (Appendix A) was sent to 622 wildlife rehabilitation centers, raptor centers, nature centers, zoos, falconers, and similar institutions across the United States in an effort to determine the success and failure of various methods of enrichment for various owl genera, as well as imprints versus non-imprints. Significant findings suggest distinct correlations between imprints and non-imprints for both successful and failed enrichment among Bubo and Tyto species, respectively. Additionally, significant correlations were measured between imprints and non-imprints among all owl genera for successful and failed enrichment.

KEYWORDS: owl, genera, enrichment, zoo, wildlife, rehabilitation, cognitive abilities, animal welfare, falconry, husbandry, captivity

Board member Francisca Astorga shares tidbits

Close up portrait of Francisca in a sunhat with a toddler pulling on her ear.Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

I have many cousins, and some of them live up in a reserve, about 40 kms from Santiago. At some point when I was a child, I don't know why, they received an injured juvenile condor. The Andean condor is present in the National Shield as it is the national bird. My family kept the condor in an innate “rescue” process, which was a completely unknown concept in Chile. The condor was part of the family; every child would have a particular level of responsibility with this new member: cleaning the cage, feeding, building something for him. At some point, the condor started to fly, and my family kindly said goodbye. Initially, the condor made daily trips into the wild and would returned back every night. One day, he did not came back. And never did. Months later, my family discovered that he had been shot by locals.

This was really shocking for me. Why would someone do something like that? I was 11 years old. I wrote a tale for the school about the experience and won the first place in a story contest. Besides this literature inspiration, something about the condor’s story moved me deeply and made me question about the human-nature relationship.

On the other hand, was this “human-nature-bond” the best way to live for the condor? Probably not. He was a wild animal, but since he was raised with humans, he did not acquire the normal distrust of people, which unfortunately finally facilitated his death. A better understanding of wild species needs was also required.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

About 5 years ago, I went to a IWRC conference as a speaker. I have been working in a Chilean rehabilitation center, and I wanted to share my experience. This was my first international experience associated with wildlife rehabilitation. In this event, I met board members and the whole team of IWRC. I was impressed and amazed. It was like a family; but beyond that, they were strong, fully motivated, highly specialized, and with so so many human resources and expertise. After this, I could not step back, I could only step forward and jump in as a board member.

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

I am veterinarian, but most of my work with wildlife has not been related to clinical practice. I am much more interested in science, exploring different areas that aim to contribute to wildlife conservation. In this context, I believe that rehabilitators, and all areas associated with conservation, should increase their science-based approach.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

I would definitely prefer to be any herbivorous animal. I think it would be so exhausting and painful to depend on the life of other animals to survive. Hopefully, a big herbivorous, such a giraffe, to be able to travel around those amazing landscapes.

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Working with wildlife, there are so many niches that need to be covered. I work mainly in research-based projects, but also in many other related things such as protected areas and ex-situ conservation programs. But some of the most motivational activities in which I participate are all those associated with education and broadcasting. We can't just work and not share what is being done. We need to train new generations, motivate them. Not only students, but also the community. I think these are the things that I would really like to put more energy into.

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

My PhD thesis was focused on the effects of free-ranging dogs on wildlife and public health. But what can I say: I love dogs. I have 6 dogs. Not intentionally, I would really prefer keeping just 3 at the most, but we keep adopting these beautiful beasts from the streets or even from natural areas. We are only a complete family with them, and they are always reminding me that humans are SO not the only friends that we can have.

IWRC and BruWILD to Host Wildlife Rescue Class in Brunei

BruWILD logobigblueblacklogo

 

 

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 12 2016

IWRC AND BRUWILD TO HOST WILDLIFE RESCUE CLASS IN BRUNEI

BANDAR SERI BEGEWAN, BRUNEI DARUSSALAM The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) and the Brunei Biodiversity & Natural History Society (BruWILD) have teamed up to provide wildlife rescue and rehabilitation training in Brunei. IWRC instructors will travel to Brunei July 25th through 30th to teach courses to 30 participants consisting members from BruWILD, the Wildlife Division (Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism), Universiti Brunei Darussalam and International School Brunei at the Faculty of Science laboratories, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Funded by the US Embassy and supported by the Brunei Wildlife Division (MPRT), Universiti Brunei Darussalam, and International School Brunei, this training event is the culmination of a year’s collaboration between Liaw Lin Ji, founder and president of BruWILD, and Kai Williams, executive director of The IWRC.

Expanding human development and loss of forest habitats in Brunei Darussalam have forced many wild animals to encroach onto the human environment. The public encounters more wildlife - often in situations of distress from cars, windows, and other human infrastructure, plus greater prevalence of poaching. Animals found dead by roads or caught in the possession of poachers include the silvered-leaf langurs, otters, slow loris, pangolins, among others. This is a matter of concern as some of these species are of conservation significance and regarded as IUCN ‘Endangered’ or ‘Critically Endangered’.

“The increased encounter of injured wildlife in  Brunei requires the urgent need of a proper wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center and a team of trained wildlife rescue and rehabilitators. Realising this necessity, BruWILD has engaged IWRC for their kind assistance in the training and the Wildlife Division for their long-term support in this endeavour.” Through this training, Brunei is equipped with at least 30 trained individuals who can work towards the rehabilitation of Brunei’s wildlife. “We are thankful for the good support from the US Embassy Brunei whose funds enable the realisation of this project, and to UBD and ISB for their support and assistance.”

“We are thrilled to assist BruWILD with their enormous undertaking to provide a trained and effective wildlife rehabilitation team in the country of Brunei” says Williams. “These are some of the best possible circumstances for a training; where we can combine in situ knowledge of wildlife with our instructors’ expertise in wildlife rehabilitation”.

IWRC instructors, Dr Kelli Knight and Lloyd Brown, both Certified Wildlife Rehabilitators (CWRs) are excited to teach Brunei’s conservation biologists the skills and techniques of wildlife rehabilitation while in turn learning about the local ecosystem.

The week will begin with IWRC’s two day flagship course, Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation and will continue with courses in pain management, wound management, parasitology, and zoonoses all geared towards the particulars needed in wildlife rehabilitation. Friday brings special sessions on disaster management, an area of expertise for Brown who has worked in human and animal disaster management for over [x] years, and the public/wildlife interface, an area both instructors are active in every day. In all, participants will gain over 40 hours of continuing education.

Located on the island of Borneo, Brunei is a resource rich country with a vibrant diversity of tropical wildlife ranging from inhabitants of the ocean and mangrove swamps along the coast to primary forests in the hilly inland stretches. We are proud to be working towards the protection of these invaluable habitats for the benefit of the country and its people.

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BruWILD is a local non-government organisation officially formed in April 2014. BruWILD consists of graduates who are biologists with numerous backgrounds of expertise; including botany, herpetology, ornithology, mammal specialist, biochemistry, ecology, and marine life specialist. BruWILD’s aim is to build a future for Brunei where people and nature, sustainable development and natural heritage can coexist and thrive to mutual benefit. It is our mission to provide the best educational support to all local institutions in Brunei Darussalam. Our foundation that is built on the diverse experience and expertise of biologists allow us to also engage, participate and collaborate with government institutions and other non-government bodies in solving, mitigating numerous environmental related problems.

 

The IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife and habitat through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement is “providing science-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to promote wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.” Wildlife rehabilitation is the act of providing temporary care for injured, sick or orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. By providing unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species, and habitats wildlife rehabilitation contributes to wildlife conservation and protection worldwide.

 

International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council
   Contact: Kai Williams, Executive Director  
   Office:  (866) 871-1869
   Fax:     (408) 876-6153
   Email:  director@theiwrc.org

BruWILD
   Contact: Liaw Lin Ji, President
   Office:  (673) 886-9729
   Email:  bruwildorg@gmail.com

PDF of Brunei Press Release (no Images)

Images for Press Release

Pangolin walking through leaf litter. Photo Credit Mahdi Hussaimiya
Sunda Pangolin (Manis javanica). One of the most important mammals to conserve as it is categorised as 'Critically Endangered' by the IUCN Red List. This species is highly exploited, poached for their skins, scales and meat. Their decline requires urgent attention for protection. Photo Credit Mahdi Hussaimiya
Tarsier. Photo credit Jungle Dave and Hakeem Julaihi
Western Tarsier (Tarsius bancanus). This species is considered 'Vulnerable' by the IUCN Red List. Tarsiers suffer from habitat loss due to forest conversion for agriculture and oil palm plantations, as well as illegal pet trade. Photo credit Jungle Dave and Hakeem Julaihi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monique Pool: Sloth Rehabilitator

Globe with country of Suriname in green (north coast of South America)
Country of Suriname (in green) Photo Credit: Artwin Wikipedia

Monique Pool is the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Green Heritage Fund Suriname, a nonprofit organization that, among other activities, fosters and rehabilitates orphaned and injured sloths. She was recognized as one of CNN’s Heroes in 2015, a massive accomplishment for not only herself and organization, but as a representative of the wildlife rehabilitation community. Monique graciously allowed IWRC to interview her recently in light of her tremendous recognition and important work in Suriname. To learn more, please go to http://www.greenfundsuriname.org/en/.

1. How did you originally get involved in wildlife rehabilitation?

What I remember is that I was compassionate from a young age in respect of animals that were hurt. I have a vivid recollection of a bird I found, of which the top part of the beak was missing, undoubtedly because of a cat attack. I kept it in a box, and was giving it water, trying to keep it alive. I may have been 9 or 10 years old. I also remember always having liked animals. Then there was a long period in which I was not really all that involved in this type of activity. I studied linguistics, which has no relationship at all to this field, and I never contemplated it as a professional goal to rehabilitate wild animals.

Pre-release examination. Photo Credit: Monique Pool
A sloth physical examination. Photo Credit: Monique Pool

It was purely a coincidence in the beginning with the baby sloth put in my path. This experience made me realize that if you do not teach a baby animal the right skills, you have to look after it for life - just keeping an animal alive and in captivity is not enough. At least in my world it is not. To rehabilitate, you have to teach it skills that it would learn from its mother so that it is able to go back and survive on its own in the wild. For me it was a conscious decision to care for Xenarthrans (mammal group including anteater, sloth, and armadillo species) that would cross my path, because I realized it is a responsibility that is not to be taken lightly. It is a commitment, a sort of a promise to myself, that I keep doing this. I also have set myself a condition for continuing this work, which is that the day I no longer feel emotionally involved in the fate of an animal, I will stop this type of work, because it would mean I have become jaded.

2. What do you think it means about the perception of wildlife that you, a wildlife rehabilitator, were chosen for CNN Hero award?

It shows the increased awareness society has of our responsibility for the animals we affect through deforestation and other human activities.

Heavy equipment removing trees
Equipment removing trees in a Suriname forest.

3. Were you recognized locally for your award, and if so, did it have an impact on the attitudes towards wildlife and rehabilitation in your area?

Yes, for putting Suriname in a positive light in front of a global audience. Now, indeed no one can even try to sell a sloth through Facebook because of the online public in Suriname. They will immediately start reporting it, attacking these people on the online platform, saying it is illegal to sell a protected species, they start calling, etc. People phone asking about what to do when they see one crossing the road. People realize they need specialized attention and so do not try to care for them themselves, but report it to the Zoo or animal protection society and then it comes to us.

4. What is the greatest threat facing the wildlife you rescue and rehab in your region/country?

Deforestation/urbanization for housing and raising cattle. And then hunting.

5. What are the biggest challenges to rehabilitation and successful release in your region/country?

Lack of a natural environment to slowly rehabilitate the animals to ensure they are capable of surviving on their own. That is why we are now building the center to do this in a natural environment.

6. When the job and needs of so many animals becomes overwhelming and seemingly endless, how do you cope and find motivation to keep going?

I have South American friends who have said they also get depressed sometimes, so I know I am not alone in this feeling. The other thing is I want to be certain I have done everything I can for the animals, that they have had the best help, got second opinions and anything we can do. It still surprises me that there is seemingly no end to this and that is a big challenge. Support from my family, friends, and the wonderful volunteers I work with keep me going.

7. Sloths have become popular on social media sites in the form of photos, videos, and memes. There is also a demand for them in the pet trade and for tourist photo opportunities. How do you think wildlife rehabilitators can best address or consider the risks of promoting our necessary hands-on work with wildlife, especially popular or attractive species, without unintentionally supporting a desire within the public to be hands-on with them as well?

Monique Pool holds a sloth under its armpits as she carries it to release tree. View of Monique and sloth faces.
Readying a sloth for release. Photo Credit: Monique Pool

Always have a clear message that wild animals belong in the wild and that the reason you are keeping them in a unnatural environment and handling them is just a stage in the rehabilitation process to get them back in to the wild and never compromise on this. Keep promoting that wildlife belongs in the wild.

8. Assuming wildlife rehabilitation will always be needed to some degree and play a role in the welfare and conservation of wild animals, what would you like to see change for field of wildlife rehabilitation?

I would like to see a platform, maybe species specific - which may exist but I am not aware of - for wildlife rehabilitators to talk and contact each other. I am only now being contacted by other rehabilitators because I have been recognized, and they have questions about how to care for an animal.

A definite change I would like to see is more funding is made available for this type of work, also from an international level like the UN or GEF, for wildlife rehabilitation, because it is a worldwide problem caused by humans. This means that humanity takes on the responsibility for funding this type of work, because most rehabilitators do it out of their love for animals, and often fund themselves, although they are clearly providing a social benefit.

Sloth with long red fur climbing a tree - view of back of sloth.
A just released sloth climbs a tree. Photo Credit: Monique Pool

Board Treasurer Dani Nicholson shares tidbits of her journey in wildlife rehab

photo of Dani NicholsonPlease share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

My father and mother were active and adventurous, respected all animals and nature in general. We loved to be outdoors. I remember stopping the car to watch snakes and tarantulas cross the road. The brown bears were understood to be beautiful and respected for their power and intelligence. For a time, we lived on our grandparents property outside of Yosemite and were taught that a particular outcropping of rocks was to be avoided because the rattlesnakes lived there and came out to sun themselves. No one would have ever killed them, we simply learned how to avoid confrontations with wildlife, which I’ve carried my entire life. I remember being mesmerized by spider webs and the list goes on and on.  We were only allowed to watch programs on television about nature, other than the occasional sporting events. My father was especially curious about nature and was my greatest influence, but my mother’s side of the family is Native American which I believe also influenced the way we lived.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

I had begun transporting for Pacific Wildlife Care after being introduced to the organization when I found 7 young opossums on our property. I helped raise them until they went to a rehabilitator. I joined, and at my first training with PWC, I heard from the instructor that there are two organizations we should join, IWRC and NWRA. I joined both immediately.

I had a conversation with Kai Williams, IWRC’s Executive Director, about my history, and when I mentioned that I had been an accountant, Kai’s eyes lit up while she explained that their current Treasurer was going to be stepping down due to other commitments. We discussed my joining the board, and I was happy to be able to support IWRC in this way.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

I feel that having been a mother has brought me a sense of selflessness when faced with a vulnerable animal who needs help; my history of owning a retail business has helped me to understand how to work with the public and with volunteers within our center, and my profession of accounting has helped me to understand the needs of running a business, even a non-profit rehabilitation center and now in helping IWRC as Treasurer.

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

I feel that I accomplished what I have dreamed of my entire life, working with animals and living in the country. I am proud of the many steps I’ve taken in life to get here. Helping animals makes me feel vital and alive.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?

Dr. Jane Goodall has always been my idol. I believe she came along at a time when I was young and impressionable. She made me think that I wanted to do something like she was doing. I didn’t know where that would lead, but the fact that she was doing what I admired, inspired me.

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

I love what I’m doing and wouldn’t do anything different; however, I also love art and would love to paint and make more pottery.

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

I would love to be a brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) - to be able to fly over the ocean. Being in love with brown pelicans and loving the ocean has informed that choice.

What is the thing for which you have waited in line the longest?

For a train in India. I don’t mind waiting in lines - you are in a perfect position to watch people, which I love to do.

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

I would say that worrying about an animal’s health is the #1 cause of sleepless nights; however, on a positive note, it would have to be interactions with wildlife such as my recent whale excursions in Baja California.

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

I have 3 rescued domestic geese (2 were attacked by dogs at a local lake, and 1 was obviously a hand raised pet that had been dumped at a lake); 8 Rhode Island red chickens; 4 dogs (2 border collie mixes who protect my other animals, 1 lap dog and 1 black and tan coon hound); 1 rescued black cat and 2 budgies who were found hatched this year at a friend's aviary (not a rescue, but also not purchased).