What does it Take to Rescue and Rehabilitate Wildlife in Trouble

A rescue team member at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA treats a cold-stunned Kemp's Ridley (photo by NEAQ)


Every year, a number of sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals strand for various reasons. This is because when an animal strands, it’s because they are either out of their elements, or, outside of their survival envelope. However, identifying an animal as “stranded” is very difficult because, many times, animals will mask their symptoms to avoid predation; but the main signs that would tell you that an animal is stranded would include the following: illness, orphaned by an un-returning mother after 24 hours, injury, or suffering from any condition that may prevent movement or feeding on their own.  If you come across a sick, orphaned, or injured marine animal, please keep an eye on it for a long period of time. Then, call your local zoological park that does wildlife rehabilitations, or or nearest wildlife rehabilitation center that does rescue and rehabilitations of marine wildlife (be sure you give the exact situation and location of the animal too).

The only other thing you could from there after that is allow the wildlife professionals do their thing. Once an animal arrives at a rescue and rehabilitation facility, the process begins. During rehabilitation, an animal must have very little to no human contact to prevent it from imprinting on human care takers. One part of rehabilitation is long term treatment by veterinarians. This treatment can include surgery, bottle-feeding orphaned animals, and giving sick animals anti-biotics to prevent infection. Rehabilitation can usually take months, or sometimes, even years. Some facilities even provide animals undergoing rehabilitation live fish in order to teach them how to hunt, while some marine animals, like sea turtles undergo physical rehabilitation in medical pools in order to help rebuild strength loss from oil spills and cold-stunning seasons.

Once rehabilitation has been completed, and they are releasable, a decision must be made regarding where the animal should be released since most marine animals are migratory. There, researchers will search for a location that is best suited for releasing an animal.  For example, when releasing newly rehabilitated seals and sea lions, it’s best to release them in areas where haul-outs are common, and are away from human contact. But, if an animal has a condition or has been in a situation where they have a very little chance of surviving on their own, then researchers can then have the power to declare them as non-releasable. A non-releasable animal is then transferred to a zoological park that houses animals of the same species as the one that is rescued. They will then, live out their lives in human care.

If you would like to learn more how to get involve with wildlife rehabilitation, please visit  http://www.marinemammalcenter.org/what-we-do/rehabilitation-release/what-we-do-rehabilitation-1.html

http://www.seewinter.com/ for more information.


One thought on “What does it Take to Rescue and Rehabilitate Wildlife in Trouble

  1. Pingback: “Dolphin Tale” Puts The Incredible Works of Marine Life Facilities In the Spotlight « The Winter Dolphin Chronicles

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