At any given time, Anniston Museum of Natural History houses and cares for more than 60 live animals. While we are not a wildlife rehabilitation center, we strive to educate and advice our county about what to do next with found injured and orphaned wildlife.
Unfortunately, because the Museum is only staffed during normal business hours, we are unable to offer 24 hour care to injured, orphaned or baby animals. For this reason, we are not able to take in certain animals. We do make a special effort to try and accommodate requests to take in injured birds of prey, but only after they have been evaluated, treated, and cleared by veterinarians at Anniston’s Animal Medical Center who are professionally trained in this specific area of care. The Museum staff does not have the ability to accommodate wild animal rescues off-site and must limit the number of animals housed within our on-site facilities. We recognize that our community cares deeply about the well-being of our native wildlife, and, while we cannot accept or care for injured or orphaned animals that are found in our area every year, we can make available some resources for the public that will help answer many of the questions we are asked. These resources will offer specific advice to the public if an injured or orphaned wild animal is found on your property or while traveling.
- Baby animals: If you find baby birds, bunnies, or any other small animals that seem to be abandoned, please keep in mind that sometimes the mother is nearby. Some animals respond better to hand-feeding than others, and may be successfully cared for by a dedicated caregiver. However, baby bunnies that already have their eyes open will rarely take a bottle, and do not fare well in captivity, even with a surrogate. Baby birds found on the ground often fledge the nest and are cared for by their parents. Some of these animals will perish, with or without human intervention. However harsh or sad this may seem to us as human beings, it often serves a greater purpose in the larger web of life. Every day in nature, animals become food for other animal in the food chain. This is simply how nature functions.
- Turtles: In spring and early summer, we often see people removing turtles that are found crossing the road. Sometimes the good Samaritan will take the turtle home or find another spot far from the road in which to relocate the turtle. Many times, the turtles that are found crossing our roads and highways are mothers, making their way to their yearly nesting spot. If they are taken away from their familiar nesting area, the stress can actually make them egg-bound, and they can die. It is in their best interest to carefully help them cross the road in the same direction they are headed, and let them reach their chosen destination on their own.
If you have a question about orphaned or injured animals you encounter, please make your first call to the Alabama Wildlife Center Wildlife Hotline at 205-663-7390 extension 2. They are a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center and have experts on staff. You may visit their website at www.awrc.org.
- Birds of Prey: If you find an injured or orphaned bird of prey, such as a hawk or owl, please take the time to carefully observe it for a while, to make certain it is suffering a permanent injury, and not just temporarily disoriented. If you determine that it has actually been injured, carefully put it into a pet carrier of sufficient size, and take it to Animal Medical Center of Anniston. They will advise us as to whether the bird can be released or not. One must be extremely careful with birds of prey-even injured ones- as their talons can inflict serious injuries. Always use thick leather gloves and towels when transporting or moving birds of prey!
If the Alabama Wildlife Center cannot assist you, you may call the Museum during weekdays to speak to our Animal Care Taker or Educator (256-237-6766, extension 317). We will try to advise you to the best of our abilities and help you with your situation. (After hours and on weekends, please refer to the Alabama Wildlife Center.) Thank you for your care and concern for the environment and for Alabama’s wildlife!