On Tuesday October 30 over 100 people – Tucson Wildlife Center volunteers, board members, supporters and community members gathered to break ground for the future Sam Goodman Wildlife Hospital, at 13275 E. Speedway (3.8 miles east of Houghton) in Pima County.
President/Founder Lisa Bates spoke of the first animal (a raccoon) that she rescued 12 years ago when all they had were a few enclosures for wildlife. Now the Tucson Wildlife Center rescues, rehabs, and releases over 800 animals a year, with the help of their 70 volunteers and donors.
District 4 Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll said that he was able to convince his fellow board members to waive the impact fees for the Center, in order to facilitate the building of the wildlife hospital. He also spoke of St. Francis of Assisi who befriended animals (mostly birds) and a lone wolf, who is often depicted at St. Francis’ feet.
Thomas Alston, representing CD 2 Congressman Ron Barber said that the Center was a “valuable asset to the community”, and James MacAdam, representing Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild spoke of the various animals city-wide that TPD or Tucson firefighters are called to rescue & assist, and turn over to the Center for rehabilitation. Animals are released if possible, but many are too injured (i.e. broken wings of birds) to release into the wild.
District 3 Supervisor candidate Tanner Bell (a former UA football “Wildcat”) was present as well, as he had just made a video PSA for the Center, along with rescued “Wilbur” bobcat, who is housed there. I got to see Wilbur in his cage, and then later outside on a leash, being fed raw venison meat. Wilbur was rescued as a tiny kitten by a Pascua Yaqui boy at a construction site, and suffers from seizures and is currently taking medication.
I took photos of various rescued birds in their cages, such as a screech owl, Great Horned owl (one with a caretaker), a leucistic (almost albino) red tailed hawk , a black vulture. Other animals at the Center such as javelinas, coyotes, raccoons, and coatis were difficult to photograph due to the lighting and movement.
Several of us toured the current facilities: the one surgery room, a small ICU, animal enclosures, office, etc. The Sam Goodman wildlife hospital will be a lot larger, having more “surgical rooms, with triage, intensive care, nursery and 24-hour care by licensed veterinarians and well-trained rehabilitators”.
More information about the center or to donate money, visit www.tucsonwildlife.com. Call to arrange a tour, or a visit by a rescued animal and trained volunteer to your school. If you come across a wild animal that needs rescuing, call 520-290-WILD.
Read my earlier post announcing this event with a PSA video (click here). And for blogger Tucson Tails’ post about Tanner Bell’s PSA: http://tucsoncitizen.com/tucson-tails/2012/10/29/tucson-wildlife-center-tanner-bell-one-wildcat-wilbur/v