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 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.
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.