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The Next Wild Generation

The Next Wild Generation

by Mary C. Schoeffel, Development Director, The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW)

It is wild baby season!  Are you one of the millions who watch YouTube videos of animals, particularly young animals?  How about wild babies?  Many amateur and professional photographers have creatively captured the antics of these youngsters as they learn to fly, practice foraging or hunting skills, and explore their surroundings.  Though wild parents are absent from most postings, they are watching as closely as the photographer because they are critical to ensuring the survival of this next generation.

Late spring and early summer are busy times for wildlife.  We are seeing lots of animals during our daily routines as wild parents are in the midst of training their young.  At the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) which saves wildlife through Care, Education, and Collaboration the hospital is full of wild babies right now because sometimes those parental examples are ignored leading to harmful consequences like broken legs and wings.  Since 1968, concerned citizens have brought injured, ill, or orphaned wildlife patients to CROW on Sanibel Island. In 2015, 3,646 patients were admitted to the hospital which is open 365 days a year.

Wild babies accounted for the largest percentage of CROW’s patient load until 2012 when “If You Care, Leave It There” was launched.   This initiative highlights the importance of wild parents in the successful rearing of their babies.  Many times, babies were brought to CROW when the parents were still actively caring for their young.  Even though CROW’s staff and volunteers are well versed in neonate care, we have learned that wild parents have a much higher success rate raising their young than humans do.   By sharing information about different parenting styles with callers and potential rescuers – some nest on the ground, some underground – the patient load has shifted away from caring for healthy babies and allowed more resources to be applied to critical care needs.

Because we are surprised at times by what is in our own backyards, CROW designed a new permanent exhibit for the Visitor Education Center (VEC) to complement the “If You Care, Leave It There” education initiative.  Here visitors will see nesting examples, learn if the youngster is at the toddler stage of exploring its environment, and most importantly what to do if it is in danger.  Funded by the Southwest Florida Community Foundation with opening scheduled for early 2017, the exhibit will feature examples of:

  • Where various animals nest, den, rear their young
  • How to tell whether or not a wild baby is in distress or just learning to fly
  • What, if any action, is needed
  • How to act, particularly to keep the wild family together
  • When, if necessary, professional care is needed

Guests are welcome year-round at the VEC.  Interactive exhibits focus on the continuum of care at the wildlife hospital.  Live feed streaming from the hospital’s initial exam room and several outdoor recovery enclosures give visitors access to areas off-limits because of regulations.  CROW also offers on-site and off-site Outreach Education Programs, which include Animal Ambassadors.  These unique experiences appeal to all ages.

If you want to know more about CROW, how to participate in activities, volunteer or help our patients, please go to, or call 239-472-3644.

2016 Mary Schoeffel CROW Director of Development

Mary Schoeffel, Development Director, CROW


This summer, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is spotlighting the nonprofit organizations funded through the 2016 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked our 2016 grantees to send us their stories.  The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change-makers. 

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of fostering regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!