By Elle McGraw (Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern at KSTR)
No one enjoys losing. Especially when losing means life or death of beautiful animals. Everyday at our wildlife sanctuary, Kids Saving the Rainforest (KSTR), we embark on the battle of life or death in the case of each animal we receive. For some animals the battle is the immediate intervention between life or death; and for other, less severe cases, it consists of preparing goals in order for them to return to the wild. For all of us here at KSTR, we put our heart and soul into every animal that comes through our clinic.
In professions such as ours, it is imperative to detach yourself emotionally, at least until the animal prevails through the initial critical stages. However, in my personal experience, I have found this to be quite difficult, sometimes impossible. Each person at KSTR has dedicated their life to the welfare and conservation of wild animals, and when one’s love for animals runs so deep, it makes detaching oneself quite difficult. This lack of detachment can make the loss of an animal more painful, but the release that more rewarding.
I have seen some amazing things while working at KSTR, as well as endured the pain of loss. The enjoyment of seeing an animal released, continues to renew my spirits in order to continue the grueling work we do. I have witnessed animals that come in badly wounded from cars, electrocutions, and dog attacks, that survive in cases that seemed hopeless. There is never a time that we give up on an animal without trying, without putting our hearts into it.
In one case, of an agouti that was hit by a car, her hind leg was so severely broken that it required amputation. We knew that she required the amputation to save her life, but we didn’t know if she could ever be released with only three legs. When her wound was healed enough, we began taking her for walks, which quickly became runs. After a short time of her learning how to maneuver without her hind leg, she was too fast for us to catch. She fought her way through the pain of being hit by a car, infection, and the loss of a leg, all the way to release. We have since seen her a few times at the site we chose to release at.
The joy of seeing animals that would have otherwise been cast off, not only survive, but thrive back in the wild, has no equal to a wildlife rehabber. These are the moments we work so tirelessly for, these are the moments we live for. I cannot imagine a more rewarding job, or volunteer opportunity.