“Virginia is for lovers.” That’s what Virginia tourism says- the beaches, the history, the attractions…romance is just in the air! However, look a bit deeper and there is some wonderful wildlife and forests roaming the land of Virginia. Bears, hawks, deer, and the symbol of America, the Bald Eagle. I’ve only seen bald eagles from afar when traveling through Alaska, but I finally got a chance to come face-to-face with this majestic bird.
Now, there are no alligators or crocs in Virginia, but there are some good friends of mine that live in Virginia, such as Ed Clark who is the president and founder of The Wildlife Center of Virginia, established in 1982. I could tell you all about Ed and the Wildlife Center, but why don’t you check it out for yourself: http://wildlifecenter.org/about-center/meet-staff.
I met Ed in 2009 in Belize when he was the guest speaker for a conference that I was attending. We became friends immediately, and I think it was over our love of whiskey and scotch! I truly admire Ed as he was living my dream- working with wildlife, and traveling the world inspiring others about wildlife conservation, and rehabilitation. From the moment I met Ed, he became my Yoda. I have tried to see how he has built his success and how he continues to grow the Wildlife Center. I figure, why invite the wheel again? If I too want to create my own wildlife education center/sanctuary one day, might as well observe what the successful people have done, and what they continue to do. Take in their experience, and try to avoid the bumps and obstacles they may have hit.
I spent a whole day at the Wildlife Center, as I got to use my knowledge of reptile parasites! I helped identify some mites found on some box turtles, and gave them some input on the hygiene/husbandry aspect to prevent or cure reptilian parasitic diseases. It was so great to meet and intermingle with other wildlife enthusiasts and veterinarians. And it was great to see the vets in action! Within a span of 2 hours, a turtle that was attacked by a domestic cat, 2 fawns (hit by cars, unfortunately), and I an injured hawk came in, saved by the local police force and citizens. This crew really worked together, and were so professional when it came to the life and health of the animals- it was soooo impressive. Besides witnessing the emergency rescues, I got to meet some of the resident wildlife that are injured and can not be re-released. Crows, possums, owls, a vulture that is absolutely adorable (yes, and his name was Buttercup!!!!), and the bald eagle, Buddy. Buddy has a twisted beak and can’t be released into the wild as it is unlikely he would survive. But I knew Buddy and I had a special connection when I met him… we share the same birthday!
If you ever find yourself in the state of Virginia, make sure to stop over at the Wildlife Center, as it will definitely be a time to remember! And maybe you’ll meet the great Bernice Glen- words can’t describe how amazing this woman is, but she definitely knows how to show guests a good time! Oh, and make sure you take a drive on the Skyline Drive. Beautiful mountain views, and there is a gas station that is absolutely amazing!!! They sale guns, knives, samari swords, ninja stars… there’s a deli with great food, and you can also buy candles called Smell Your Nuts! Amazing!!!!!!!!