Over the course of the year, the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center will see more than 1,400 different animals come through its doors.
“Our wildlife rehab program is designed so we take ill and injured animals from the public with the goal of releasing them back into the public,” said Amy LeMonds, the center’s director of programs and wildlife. “So far, we’ve treated around 750 animals.”
Now, for those curious about how the center handles and rehabilitates animals, a new enclosure will allow people to see the wildlife rehabilitation process. Officials hope a new one-way windowed enclosure will help raise awareness about how animal life is affected by human activity. It’s free to the public and visitors can come see it during the center’s hours 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
“We’re an educational facility,” LeMonds said. “Almost all the time, it’s the result of a human activity that causes the animal to come here, whether they get hit by a car or fly into a window or get caught by a cat. It’s a way for us to teach about the animals we get in and why they get hurt to prevent animals from getting hurt in the future.”
The 208 square-foot enclosure, which was created using a $30,000 anonymous donation, features two flight cages and is designed with special glass that allows people to look into the enclosure without alerting animals to human presence. This allows them to recover unhindered from the outside pressures of the world.
“Most of the animals are wild and are scared of people and so if people are looking at them all the time, they’re going to be stressed out,” said Tim Jasinski, a wildlife rehabilitation specialist at the center. “They’re cornered basically. They won’t want to eat; they’ll use too much energy and they’ll hurt themselves.”
These two flight cages are one of the last stops before the animals are released back into the wild. It can hold anything from hummingbirds to opossums. The design allows the animals to re-acclimate to nature and adjust to things like the weather. It also allows the specialists to test the animal’s abilities, like flying and climbing.
“It makes the animals more comfortable.” Jasinski said. “If an animal isn’t comfortable then it’s not going to want to eat, it’s not going to do well. The more comfortable we make them, the better the chance of the rehab being more successful.”
So far, only a handful of animals have seen the enclosure.
“It makes [people] think about what they’re doing and to think about their environment more,” LeMonds said. “We are animals, us as animals impact other animals and everything really is connected.”
You can contact this reporter at Akamczyc@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.