Promote mental health in the work (volunteer) place

In recent years, Lynn Miller, Sue Wylie, and I have written reminders to take time for self care in IWRC’s newsletters. After discussing the recent instances of suicide with a colleague, it occurred to me that IWRC is well placed to do more to speak up for the mental health of wildlife rehabilitators. Over the next few months we will write and share a series of pieces on mental health, including information on self assessment, tips for self care, and resources for centers and individuals to use in maintaining mental health.

As we’ve started the research for this task, CWR Director, Marjan Ghadrdan, and I have found many resources are available. We are excited to bring you some of our favorite resources and learnings. If you’d like to start exploring now visit the AVMA’s wellness site.

If you are in urgent need of help please contact a hotline immediately. Many countries have national hotlines. If you are in the US click here to chat with someone right now.

Considering Workplace Mental Health

There’s a move from corporate giants, including Unilever, Bell, and Prudential, to address mental health in the workplace. Access to large corporation work benefits like in-office fitness centers, day care, and health screenings, are concepts that don’t downscale easily to your average small nonprofit. But we can acknowledge that mental health needs and illnesses are just as real as physical ailments. Whether it is one volunteer or 15 employees, institute a culture at work that openly addresses mental health.

Mental illness affects many people, 4.4% of the global population is thought to suffer from depression alone1. Our community is particularly at risk, as job related factors of compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress can increase the risk of developing a mental health problem. These same issues affect emergency response workers and individuals in veterinary and human medicine; fortunately, this commonality means there are good aid resources already developed.

Steps to Take

Understand the unique risks of our work and help employees and volunteers do the same

  • See the resource section at the bottom for education aids.

Encourage self assessment

Provide resources for self-care and set a culture where self-care is a priority

  • Encourage walks
  • Put out a coloring book
  • Provide a ‘no wildlife’ break area
  • Create a venting wall or opt for online and create a safe space for venting
  • Establish breaks
  • Buddy system
  • Set up a self care board where people can share ideas
  • Hire (or find a volunteer!) professional to talk to people one on one or run a group session
  • Set up an employee assistance program (EAP)

What resources do you have in your rehabilitation clinic? Share with director@theiwrc.org and we’ll see about posting in the a full list later in the year.

Resources

Pamphlets and Tools

    Workplace Stress

    Coping for Emergency Responders

    Self Care Pocket Card

 

Courses

    When Caring Hurts: Managing Compassion Fatigue (free!)

    Building Your Balance: Understanding Compassion Fatigue and Stress Management

    Compassion Fatigue Strategies

 

Books

    Compassion Fatigue in the Animal Care Community

 

  1. Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2017. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.

Amanda Margraves, In Memoriam

by Lloyd Brown

On the evening of Saturday, May 13th I lost a close friend and the wildlife rehabilitation community lost one of our own

Amanda wearing a green blazer and smiling with a model of a crow on her shoulder
Amanda posing with a crow puppet. (C) Lloyd Brown

Amanda Autumn Margraves was always meant to be a rehabber, she just didn’t always know what to call it. She had a passion for animals and went to the University of Michigan, where she was studying in the Pre-Vet program, when she found an injured squirrel. Like many people who have such experiences, she spent almost a whole day trying to find out what could be done to help it.  When she finally found a rehabber and learned what wildlife rehab is all about, she was hooked.  She continued on at U of Michigan and got her bachelor's degree in zoology. But from then on, she was a rehabber.

After college, she got a job at the Flint RiverQuarium, in Albany, Georgia. While there, she became a Georgia State permitted rehabber. She was the only rehabber in her area so she took in everything. While there she also volunteered with the rescue efforts of seabirds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that affected the coastal birds along the Gulf of Mexico.  

She then went to Belize where she worked at Belize Bird Rescue and Wildtracks. She loved Belize and even after she moved on, she would go back as often as she could.  

After that, she landed the job of Director of Rehab at the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center.  

I had begun my rehab life at the Keys Bird Center working under their founder Laura Quinn. I lived and worked there for two years before moving on to work on a dolphin rescue project and eventually started my own place. Mine is the next rehab center to the north of the Keys bird center, so, I maintained close ties with them. When I heard that they were getting in a new rehabber, I made a trip down to meet her and introduce myself. That was when I met Amanda. That was in 2011 and over the next several years we stayed friends and rehab neighbors.  If I had a water bird I would send it down to her. If she had a large bird of prey or a mammal, she would send it to me.  During her four years there, she became a legend and was beloved by the Keys community. She was known as someone who would show up at any hour of the day or night (sometimes in her pajamas and slippers) to rescue any animal in peril.  Everybody loved her and she had a cult-like following of fans who thought she was a saint and would follow her every move on social media. Many of these fans were people had witnessed her rescuing animals and some had only heard about her and wanted to know her.

In September of 2015, she came to work with me and live at my center (Wildlife Rescue of Dade County) in the south end of Miami-Dade County. For twenty plus years, I had been running the center on my own and the addition of another experienced and legally permitted rehabber made an amazing difference.

She worked at Wildlife Rescue for a year before she got hired to at Zoo Miami where she worked in the Amazon/South America section.

Unfortunately, despite the many people who loved her, she fought a terrible, personal battle with depression. People who didn’t really know her only saw the animal rescuing super-hero, wonder woman who would quickly put her own life in danger to rescue any animal. Few saw the struggles she had to fight to save her own life every day. She lived and worked at my center for a year and a half and so I saw the highs and the lows.  

Amanda with a bottle in her hand and towel on her lap. A young canid is sitting on towel.
(C) Lloyd Brown

When I would see her in her deep depression, I would put her to work caring for babies. This would usually bring a smile to her face right through the tears. Nothing could fight away her depression like a baby fox or otter that needed a bottle.

Sadly on that particular night, she could not fight off the demons when they came for her and convinced her to take her own life. Her last text to me was that I was running low on raccoon milk and I need to order more. Right up to her end, she was thinking of what had to be done to take care of our babies.

To me, Amanda was not just a rehabber. She was my partner and friend.

Amanda was born in Michigan and was 35 years old.  

 

Our members are always welcome to submit In Memoriams to IWRC for rehabilitators who have died. Submissions may be edited for content or length.

Tidbits from New Staff Member Katie McInnis

Headshot of Katie McInnis wearing magenta scrubs.Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship with wildlife.

 As a child I always loved animals. I distinctly remember finding a squirrel that had been hit by a car and wanting to help him. My mother helped me get the squirrel into a box and we took it to the vet. Although things didn’t turn out like I had hoped, I was happy that I was able to do something to help ease his pain.

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

 I am very passionate about bringing education and resources to wildlife rehabbers of all skill levels. Over the years I have seen many different rehab facilities and met many different volunteers and rehabbers. I truly believe that networking and continuing education are not only vital for excellent animal care, but for the health and well being of rehabbers as well!

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

I am very good at planning and being prepared. Whether it is driving to rescue an injured bird or planning out a lengthy anesthesia and surgery, I always make sure I have everything I need on hand before I begin.

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

Doug Mader, DVM, one of the foremost authorities on reptile medicine!

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

I would love to be a travelling wildlife vet, going from country to country to work in various rehab facilities, learning to care for different species and helping with education and conservation.

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

A hedgehog!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.
We currently have a dog and two cats. Dolly is a walker coon hound that came from the Kansas Humane Society. She loves her creature comforts, and is very happy as long as she has a warm, soft bed, plenty of food and someone to pet her. She is very affectionate, but quite drooly, which can be problematic. Miss Kitty is a laid back cat, that was surrendered to one of the vet hospitals I worked at. She likes to be petted occasionally, but has more fun chasing our other cat around the house or laying in the sun. She is around 12 years old, so a bit more sedate. Kiki is 2 years old, and was found wandering outside, she was skinny and had a terrible flea infestation. A vet tech I worked with brought her in and convinced me to foster her. Of course we ended up keeping her. She is now quite fat, and hates having her flea meds applied. She can be very affectionate but also very surly. At times she will jump up on something she shouldn’t and when you try to remove her watch out! She knows what you are doing and will bite you! She does like to have cuddle time every morning though. She also enjoys watching squirrels, and has tried unsuccessfully to pounce on one or two by launching herself at the glass window. Oops! Both cats stay indoors, but they love going out in the garage to explore and have a change in scenery.

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

gt-iwrc-banner-1

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.