PWRC and Wildlife Rehabilitation
i) What is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
ii) PWRC Rehabilitation Program
Homeopathy and PWRC
i) Homeopathy – What is it?
ii) Wildlife and Homeopathy
Environmental Enrichment and PWRC
i) Enrichment – What is it?
ii) PWRC and Enrichment
What is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
As one of many ways to preserve and protect our natural environment, wildlife rehabilitation provides unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species and habitats, and contributes to wildlife conservation and protection worldwide. Wildlife rehabilitation is the process of providing professional care to injured, orphaned, displaced, or distressed wild animals in such a way that they may survive when returned to their native habitats. Activities range from the direct care of wildlife to enclosure construction and grant writing. It also involves being proactive to prevent problems with wildlife and humanely resolving mounting human-wildlife conflicts. Wildlife rehabilitation is part science, part education, part problem-solving, and part care-giving. It is a quickly developing field with a rapidly expanding base of knowledge and ever-increasing professional standards.
Homeopathy – What is it?
Homeopathy is a gentle holistic system of healing that has been used worldwide for more than 200 years. Developed in Germany by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann MD, homeopathy is based on the healing principle of “like cures like” which in homeopathy is known as The Law of Similars. The medications used in homeopathy, referred to as homeopathic remedies, are made of highly diluted natural substances. In homeopathic treatment remedies are carefully selected based on the patient’s physical, emotional and mental symptoms to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms. Homeopathy is a powerful and complex system of medicine that can be used to safely and effectively treat both acute and chronic disease.
Wildlife and Homeopathy
There is a growing interest in the use of homeopathy for wildlife as the potential benefits of its use become increasingly appreciated. Homeopathy has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of acute wildlife trauma and can also be used to successfully treat some conditions in wildlife that conventional medicine can’t such as viral diseases and emotional states such as fear.
Homeopathic remedies are easy to administer and are generally used less frequently and for shorter time periods than conventional drugs. This means less handling and therefore less stress, an important consideration in healing.
As well, homeopathic remedies tend to accelerate healing and recovery rates so treated wildlife are able to be successfully returned to their native habitat in a more timely fashion. This, combined with the fact that homeopathic remedies are inexpensive, is beneficial in reducing overall costs associated with rehabilitation. A further advantage of homeopathic treatment is the lack of potentially harmful side effects often seen with conventional medications such as antibiotics and steroids.At PWRC all injured wildlife are treated with homeopathic first aid as well as all other indicated standard therapies. We will post a variety of wildlife cases treated at PWRC so please check the website for further updates.
Enrichment – What is it?
Environmental enrichment is the improvement or enhancement of a captive animal’s environment with a goal to increase of quality of life for that animal. Providing enrichment is common practice in zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers because of its many benefits including encouragement of naturally occurring behaviours, increased exercise, mental development and the reduction or prevention of stereotypical behaviours. Stereotypical behaviours are those that do not occur in natural environments and seem to have no immediate function. These behaviours often take the form of negative activities such as pacing, digging or aggression towards others or oneself.
In wildlife rehabilitation, enrichment is now being recognized as equally important to veterinary care and proper diet for wild animals being cared for. It can be used to facilitate and reinforce natural behaviours crucial to the survival of the animal post release. Enrichment can also increase the safety of an animal by providing alternate safe activities to perform instead of destructive behaviour or escape attempts. There are many forms of environmental enrichment. It can be achieved through the modification of an enclosure, the introduction of toys and by varying the methods and materials used in feeding.
PWRC and Enrichment
The PWRC is a firm believer that all captive animals should receive daily enrichment to allow for natural behaviours to occur and to reduce stress. Taking these steps increases the animal’s welfare and helps ensure that wildlife undergoing rehabilitation are able to perform the behaviours crucial to survival once released. This can be provided through simple steps like varying the location or materials used in feeding, which can increase species specific foraging behaviours. This is especially important when raising orphaned wildlife. Orphaned wildlife need to develop the proper hunting and foraging skills that would be taught by their parents in order to survive after release. To encourage the development of foraging skills, rehabilitators often manipulate the location or materials used in feeding to mimic that species’ natural environment as much as possible. This can be as easy as hanging berries on branches for songbirds or placing eggs in an old nest for fox kits to discover. Adding live vegetation to an enclosure is a great way to provide another source of environmental enrichment. Plants have been proven to decrease stress and also provide a place for the animal to hide and feel safe. It also offers a great place to scatter food to encourage more foraging behaviours.
The PWRC follows a list of important steps before introducing any enrichment to an animal. The first step is goal setting. What are our motives for implementing enrichment? Are we trying to elicit a specific behavior? Are we trying to decrease stereotypical behaviours? Are we trying to increase usable space in an enclosure? etc. After we have specified our goals, the next step is planning. During this step safety of the enrichment being implemented is scrutinized from all possible angles as safety of the animal is of utmost importance. At this step materials, when and how the enrichment will take place is also decided. After this process is complete, it’s time for the fun part, implementation! This step is followed by documentation of what, when, where and how the enrichment was implemented and how the animal reacted to it. Documentation is crucial as it is needed for the next step, evaluation. Evaluation is an extremely important step and should not be skipped. This is when we determine if the enrichment we implemented was a success. Did we elicit the behaviours we intended? If not, it may be time to revise our plan and start again. Successful enrichment practices are then organized by use of a schedule to ensure daily enrichment is administered to each animal being cared for.
The above enrichment process (setting goals, planning, implementation, documentation, evaluation and refinement) is based on a system developed by the Disney Animal Theme Park, that has been adopted by zoos and wildlife facilities around the globe. You can find detailed information on this system at www.animalenrichment.org.