Friday, October 22, 2010

Invited to Buddy Day - Rescued Bald Eagle

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We've been involved with The Wildlife Center of Virginia pretty much from the time we moved here to Virginia in 2000. They rehabilitate wildlife and we looked for a place like this when we moved since we choose to live in woodlands and there's always a chance for injured wildlife, so we were happy to not only discover a place only 45 minutes away, but to find out they are an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine.

Each year the Center treats about 2500 wild animals, ranging from hummingbirds to black bears (more than 55,000 animals representing 200 species to date). The clinic has 24/7 staff to receive animals and treats them free of charge. Of course, donations are gratefully accepted, and for us, gratefully given, to be sure they are always there for wildlife. We sell pet foods at our Healthy Pet Corner website and this is one of the organizations we donate to, since we give 10% of our gross pet food sale profits to places that benefit animals, wild and domesticated.

Because of that we were privileged to be invited to "Buddy Day" which was an event to learn more about this rescued bald eagle and more about eagles in general. It was simply a wonderful and amazing day!  They provided a great lunch and even had door prizes.  It was like being gathered with many kindred souls since we were all Buddy fans.

Photo of Event Brochure - Buddy in the
Nest at Norfolk Botanical Garden
The only awful part of the day was the fact that I had left my camera at home, something that was simply unthinkable!  But if we'd turned around to get it, we would've been late.  So ... I told myself it would be an experiential day, rather than having my face behind the camera.

This particular bald eagle hatched in front of thousands of EagleCam viewers all over the world on April 27, 2008 in a nest at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, VA. He was removed from the nest when a growth was observed on his beak, which proved to be avian pox. He was admitted to The Wildlife Center on May 22, 2008 as patient #08-0887.

His story became a rather long one as various problems were encountered along the way, resulting in him having to be designated as an education animal, or an Ambassador for The Wildlife Center, as they call them, on April 27, 2010. Read more about Buddy's story.

The program featured Ed Clark, the President and Co-Founder of the Center, which had a humorous bent to it simply because of his personality. We learned a lot more about the beginnings of the Center which began in a small barn. More about The Wildlife Center.

We also heard from Dr. Dave McRuer, Director of Veterinary Services, who gave a review of Buddy's case history, including a medical update and the latest information on Buddy's treatment regimen, which has been reduced to a bare minimum now.

Before lunch, Claire Thain, Environment Educator, gave us a detailed progression of the methods and ways the Center uses to train education animals. It is totally done with a positive approach with rewards, never forced training with any negative actions. A major part of the plan is to keep the animals stress free (not exhibiting stress behaviors like pacing back and forth), so they are always changing what's in each animal's personal environment to challenge them to be very alert and attentive.

© 2010 James R. Deal - Buddy with Kong
Photo From Buddy Day Brochure
Suzy Doell, Wildlife Rehabilitator, spoke on the training process that was specific to Buddy who learned a lot quickly. He had a lot going for him since he was so young and used to people and being handled at a young age. As with each animal, they had to watch Buddy's behaviors as clues to what the next step was. When he didn't want to "step up" any more (get on the trainer's glove) for a reward of food, this was when they needed him to show them what to do next.

Amazingly, he got hold of a Kong and wanted to play catch, so they were back on track again. The training is going along on schedule with hopes of a six-month period being enough to complete it.

After lunch, Dr. McRuer gave a presentation of plans to build a permanent enclosure for Buddy. One that would also be used by other raptors in final stages of preparation for release. It would also provide a way for him to fly and be able to catch live mice.

This is their current fund-raising focus, so if you want to contribute, you can donate here. If that's not possible, perhaps you can purchase your pet food at Healthy Pet Corner, knowing we will be supporting Buddy and other animals around the world. The places we support are listed on our links page. You will notice the ones related to animals.

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The photo(s) and article are copyrighted. You may use either of them if you include the following credit and active link back to this website: © 2010 Donna L. Watkins - This article was reprinted with permission from The link to use is:

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