When wild animals need rescuing, where do they go?
The Aark of course. More specifically, the Aark Wildlife and Rehabilitation Center in Chalfont. The center provides aid and shelter to wounded mammals, birds and reptiles throughout Bucks and Montgomery Counties and beyond. The daily work focuses on rehabilitation, education and training as they pursue their mission to “protect an irreplaceable treasure: our local wildlife.”
Every year over 5,000 mammals and birds receive aid for injuries or life sustaining care after they have been orphaned or separated from their mother. The staff treats illnesses, sets broken bones, cares for wounds and feeds and nurtures babies. In some cases animals may be just a few hours or days old. The goal is to return the animals to their natural environment as quickly as possible. Caregivers limit their handling of the animals to maintain the animals’ natural development of traits necessary to survive in the wild.
The Aark also educates the public on appreciating wildlife and the proper way to handle or not handle an injured animal if they encounter one. Twice a year, the Center hosts an open house, so that the public can learn about the work of rehabilitation. Also, children can learn and observe firsthand about these beautiful wild animals during the summer camp program available to kids in grades K through 10. The Aark’s website also provides lots of information and tips on interacting with wildlife.
Individuals interested in more rigorous training in the rehabilitation of animals can apply to participate in the center’s intern program. Students work side-by-side with the wildlife professionals and can receive college credit for their work. The program runs during the summer months.
The Rehabilitation Center is open for drop-off of animals 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Staff are available from 11 am to 4 pm to accept animals, but the clinic doors are always open for drop offs. While the center is not able to pick up animals, they’ll happily answer questions about next steps or how to transport animals yourself.
How to Help
Individual donors provide 100% of the funding for the work at the Aark, the busiest facility of its kind in the state. But the present building is small and in need of expansion. The Center’s campaign to “Build a Better Aark” is raising funds to build a new 2,600 sq. ft. clinic to handle the work. The existing building will become a dedicated education center and allow for additional year-round programming. Those interested in donating to the campaign should visit their fundraising page at www.youcaring.com.
Other ways to contribute include donating items on the Aark’s wish list including bedding, paper products, exam gloves and nuts! And if you really want to get involved hands-on, the Aark accepts and trains new volunteers each March. Visit their website at www.aark.org for information on their volunteer orientation and how to get involved.
by Betsy Natter