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2 posts from July 2017

By Jen Mannas, Wildlife Naturalist

Working at a wildlife rehabilitation center is much like working in an emergency room.  It is fast paced, you never know what will come through the front door, and many patients need life-saving procedures and medication.  

Summer is our busiest time of year. We can receive in upwards of 50 patients in one day and the species can range from a baby hummingbird to a black bear. During this time of year, our rehabilitation staff doubles in size and we welcome 15 wildlife care and baby bird interns, veterinarian externs, veterinarian tech interns and hundreds of volunteers. The baby bird nursery is now open and we can have hundreds of patients in our care at one time at different stages of needed treatment. Many of our patients are awaiting surgery, others are babies being raised, some are still healing and require medication and others are being conditioned for release. 


Juvenile raccoon being weighed.


Although we are not open to the public until 8:00 a.m., our day starts hours before. The rehabilitation staff is the first to arrive followed by our interns, volunteers and additional staff members. The morning is spent getting caught up on the new patients who arrived the previous day as well as weighing, medicating and feeding the patients in the hospital ward. Feedings in our baby bird and mammal nurseries begin at 8:00 a.m. and continue until 8:00 p.m. with 20 to 100 youngsters being fed at different intervals throughout the day. 

Volunteer feeding baby birds.


The rehab staff meets with the veterinarian team each morning to discuss the patients in vet care and to exchange any updates. The vet team then sets the priority of each patient on their list by deciding who will be seen and in what order with special attention to the types of needed procedures, such as surgeries and rechecks. The team is on the move all day long seeing and treating patients to ensure they meet all of their needs.

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Dr. Bethany Groves treating a Western Pond Turtle who has Ulcerative Shell Disease.


By mid-morning the center starts to get even busier with more staff and interns showing up that need to be updated on what has happened already that day. At this point, volunteers are busy cleaning cages, preparing diets, keeping up with the nurseries’ feeding schedule, making repairs and doing laundry.  

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Baby Bird Nursery volunteer folding laundry.


By early afternoon, a entirely new group of volunteers show up, the morning volunteers go home and the afternoon chores begin.  This means more feeding, cleaning, refreshing diets, medications and doing laundry.

Meanwhile, the seasonal rehabilitators are busy cleaning up after, enriching and feeding the bears and bobcats in our outdoor run enclosures. This can take hours and consumes most of their day.  The rehabilitators are giving exams to new patients and performing patient cage checks while volunteers and staff are taking patients out for release. In addition, our front-line staff are talking to visitors, checking in animals and answering the phone.  

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Rehabilitators giving a Bald Eagle its initial exam.


Some days we have volunteer work groups, led by our facilities manager, helping us with outdoor chores. Educational programs stop by to learn about what we do in the wildlife center and about the species we treat. New volunteer recruits are trained several times a week.

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Microsoft intern work group.


At 5:00 p.m. there is another shift change and new volunteers arrive while early morning staff go home. The evening shift consists of more laundry, finishing daily tasks, taking out trash, cleaning the kitchen, refreshing diets, administering any medications and prepping for the next day.

At any point and time at the center, there can be between 10 and 25 people caring for patients, most of which are volunteers.  Without our dedicated volunteers, we would not be able to keep up the high quality of care that we provide to all our patients.  They are the backbone of our organization and we can’t express how much we appreciate them.

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Volunteers and staff releasing Black Tailed Deer.

Our day ends sometime after 10:00 pm when the chores are complete, animals are medicated and fed and the center is tidy.

Inspired by our work? Consider making a donation today to help us continue providing vital care to wild animals in need.

Found a wild animal in need? Find out how PAWS can help

By AJ Chlebnik, Education Programs Manager

“Don’t knock it until you try it!” This old cliché is true for some things (pickled radishes taste FAR better than they smell) – and not so true for others (grizzly bear wrestling is NEVER a good choice). However, this philosophy is good to employ when making humane and animal-friendly choices for your life.

Upon leaving Montana and moving to Washington to work for PAWS, I decided to give vegetarianism a try – not as a permanent lifestyle choice, but as an experiment. PAWS promotes animal-friendly eating, and I wanted to practice what I was advocating. How difficult would it be for a lifelong meat eater to avoid eating it for an entire month in a place like Washington State? For the month of May, it was time for me to walk my talk.

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Fake bacon, potato and buttermilk pancake brunch – Yum!

As a runner who needs to make sure that I get enough protein in my diet, I could easily substitute yogurt, tofu, chickpeas, beans, peanut butter and eggs to sustain my high level of activity and training. Buying groceries was not much of a challenge – even the most mainstream supermarkets now have at least a few vegetarian options in their aisles. It was not without its challenges though. Once I purchased “vegetarian” samosas from the store deli – only to find that they had ground beef in them!

Nachos at Sno-town
My favorite comfort food can easily be made vegetarian, like these vegetarian nachos. Healthy? No way! Delicious? Absolutely!

I found myself cooking a lot more. A kind coworker lent me several vegetarian and vegan cookbooks. I experimented with making black bean and corn chili, pasta with spinach and tofu sauce, and soy meat spaghetti. All were delicious, although I did discover that nothing will make soy meat taste like real meat, and it is best to experiment with different spices to find the best flavor. My favorites were Cholula sauce, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder.

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Me enjoying a delicious homemade vegetarian breakfast

The hardest part for me was choosing a place to go out to eat. Very often some of my favorite places had few, if any, vegetarian options on their menus. I found that Asian, Indian and Mediterranean restaurants were often the best options for finding meat alternatives. Late in the month I discovered the resources available at VegSeattle  – a great place to look up local, vegetarian-friendly restaurants, as well as meat, dairy or egg substitutes. If you are eating vegetarian on a budget, this would be a great resource.

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Naan bread, lentils and tomato soup from Central Market in Mill Creek make an easy veggie lunch on the go

As an educator with PAWS, I teach kindness, empathy and compassion toward wildlife and companion animals. Eating vegetarian is a choice that can benefit farm animals, your health, and the environment! Although I don’t see being a vegetarian as a permanent lifestyle choice for me, it has caused me to be more thoughtful and intentional about the food choices that I make. Even eating vegetarian once or twice per week can make a big impact. To use another cliché, practice makes perfect. And it’s not that difficult! If I can do it, anyone can.

Read more about the benefits that vegetarianism can have for you and for animals on our website and on other vegetarian-focused websites, like Meatless Mondays.