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Resident Animal Ambassadors

Construction of the new Wildlife Ambassador Animal Residence has begun!!! Groundbreaking for the new building started the week of July 22, 2019. The estimated completion date is March 2020 and will be located next to the Wildlife Medical Clinic on the University of Illinois Veterinary College campus. Meet the resident animals of the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic. Each Ambassador has included their wish list items for their new home. All of the animals and people at the Wildlife Clinic are hoping you will donate generously, and soon, to help their new hope be safe, comfortable, and healthy for their individual needs.

River, a Bald Eagle, was found with a broken wing floating in the Illinois River and rescued by Illinois Department of Natural Resource Officers. The current of the river twisted her wing cutting off the blood supply. Her prognosis for successful release was poor but her quality of life prognosis was very good. River is a great example of an endangered species back from the brink. She has captured the hearts of so many people who admire her beauty and wild nature. River wishes for a cement pond, perches, and a perch scale.

Hazel, a Box Turtle, was found wandering in an urban neighborhood with no fear of predators. She was probably a captive pet that was either released or lost. Once wildlife is removed from the wild and in captivity for a long period of time, they cannot successfully return to the wild.  Hazel wishes for a basking site, heat lamps, substrate for burrowing, a pond, and some rocks.

Onslo, a Blue Tongued Skink, is the first non-native species resident coming from Australia, and is believed to be the oldest skink in captivity.  Owned by a long-time Medical Clinic volunteer who passed away, Onslo needed a home where he could be properly cared for.  He is a great education animal for exotic versus native species. Onslo wishes for substrate for burrowing, a hide box, and blueberries, his favorite food.

Thistle, an American Kestrel, came to the U of I as a chick with a lesion on her wing and an eye injury that resulted in her losing that eye. Some animals can survive in the wild with one eye, but Kestrels catch their prey in flight, which requires two eyes. Also, as a chick she was not experienced enough to know how to hunt. Kestrels are very social and adaptable, which makes Thistle a great education bird. She is the only fully flighted Ambassador, proven when she made her great escape in 2015. She was found 7 days later very skinny and hungry and not able to feed herself. She was very happy to be rescued. Thistle wishes for space to fly, perches, creance equipment, and a nest box.

Odin, a Red Tail Hawk, is the longest resident and came to the Wildlife Clinic in 1997 as a skinny, debilitated juvenile. Even though Red Tails are at the top of the food chain, raptors must be taught everything  (flying, hunting, eating, predation, weather, and mating) by their parents in the first 7 months of their life in order to survive in the wild. Some raptors just can’t learn all that, and Odin is one of them. He was malnourished and fighting an infection that resulted in arthritis. Because he can’t fly Odin is now the spokes-bird for the Wildlife Clinic and the elder statesman linking the present with the past Wildlife Medical students. Odin wishes for perches, feeding  platforms, a ladder perch to gain altitude, and nesting material. 

Delphine, a Virginia Opossum, is a perfect example of good intentions gone wrong. She was found by the roadside by a good Samaritan who took her to a vet for injuries that needed antibiotics. Unfortunately he took Delphine home for care and as a healthy, young adult tried to release her back into the wild. Due to her long time around people she could be considered tame. She relies on people for food and not on her Opossum instincts. She is the only mammal resident. She teaches us not to despise or fear Opossums, but to appreciate their role in maintaining disease control in the environment. Opossums eat ticks, LOTS of them.  Delphine wishes for a climbing tower, foraging material, and hide boxes.

Bucket, a Ball Python, was owned by a Wildlife Medical Clinic intern who needed to find a new home for her. Ball Pythons are very common pets and named because they curl up into tight balls. Bucket got her name because her owner thought the name Bucket was too cute for anyone to be afraid of her. She completes the reptile triangle of lizard, turtle, and snake, a perfect trio for education. Bucket wishes for a humidity chamber, a water feature, a hide box, and a climbing tower.

Vera, a Barred Owl, is a common owl in the US but very tough to see. The horizontal bars on the upper breast and vertical bars on the lower breast along with dark eyes gives them excellent camouflage. Vera came to the Wildlife Clinic with a shoulder injury. She was healed and went into rehabilitation but just cannot reach the altitude she needs to fly for successful release. She surprises a lot of people who expect to hear her hoot. Vera actually says Hoo, Hoo, Hoo Cooks For You instead. Vera wishes for a nest box, perches, and feeding platforms.

Ruby, a Red Tailed Hawk, is the newest addition to the Resident Ambassador program. Ruby was found in central Illinois approaching humans for food. A Good Samaritan brought her into the Illinois Raptor Center in Decatur, Illinois.It was determined that due to her demeanor and unusual hawk behavior she could not survive successfully in the wild but could serve well as an ambassador animal. After a few months with the Wildlife Medical Clinic Ruby has now found her forever home. Ruby wishes a few new perches, a platform feeder, and a new water bowl.


Get to know more of the animals supported by WSF.

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