4,000 Wild Patients and Counting

Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation Rick Schubert examines a pileated woodpecker.

By Amy Whisenhunt, Assistant Director of Individual Giving

Being the only wildlife rehabilitation hospital around Philadelphia means the Wildlife Clinic at the Schuylkill Center stays very busy.

This past year set a record for intakes with over 4,000 orphaned and injured animals treated—that comes out to an average of 25 animal arrivals each day. Our local wildlife face many threats—mainly from human activity. Birds migrating south can be severely injured by windows. Baby squirrels can be orphaned when their mother is hit by a car.

The challenges change from season to season, but what keeps the Clinic going year-round is the hard work of over a hundred volunteers and the generosity of our donors.

Here’s an update on some of the many wild patients treated at the Clinic this fall. Their recovery wouldn’t have been possible without our community of supporters:

Treatment While Migrating

Last month, an adult woodcock suffering from head trauma was found in Center City and brought into the Clinic. This bird most likely collided with a window during her trip south in search of warmer weather. After a few days of steroids, fluids, and anti-inflammatories, the woodcock was successfully released on November 8.

Here she is just moments after her release.


Can you see her? They’re excellent at staying camouflaged!

Weaning Orphans

When orphans are brought to the Clinic—usually due to the death of the mother, or because their nest was destroyed—they need to be weaned. This means round-the-clock feeding until they’re ready to find food on their own.

First they’re bottle-fed milk formula every few hours, sunrise to sunset. Then the diet gradually adds food pellets until the animal is eating only hard food and ready to be released.

This squirrel is enjoying one of her last bottle sessions before she’s ready to “graduate” to a crate outside. Living outdoors is the last stage of weaning before an orphan is ready to be released.

This opossum is staying warm in her outdoor nest, almost ready to join her siblings in the wild.

Without the support of our community, our local wildlife would face very uncertain odds, but thanks our generous friends and careful neighbors, they have a second chance.

If you find injured or orphaned wildlife, visit our website and give our Wildlife Clinic a call at (215) 482-8217 to determine what’s best for the animal.

The Wildlife Clinic at the Schuylkill Center is open to accept animals from 10:00 am– 6:00 pm seven days/week from April to September, and 10:00 am–4:00 pm seven days/week from October to March.

An excerpt of this post was published in our winter 2017 issue of The Quill, our quarterly newsletter. 

Amy WhisenhuntAbout the author
Amy Whisenhunt is our Assistant Director of Individual Giving and newest member of the Schuylkill Center’s fundraising team. She just moved to Philadelphia from New York City and is thrilled to work with the many nature and wildlife-loving supporters of the Center. She’s particularly fond of cats, wolves, goats and tribbles.

2 thoughts on “4,000 Wild Patients and Counting

  1. This is great information. It actually answers a few questions that I have had. While reading, I was wondering if there are any education initiatives or programs that are in progress better inform the public and those utilize the clinic’s services about the best practices to follow when finding an animal. I am an educator at the Wissahickon Environmental Center, and we are often ask what to do or who to call. One personal incident this summer initiated these thoughts, when someone dropped off a day old duckling to our center. Unfortunately, I was unable to get in touch with the clinic, getting only a busy signal, throughout the weekend. It was a struggle to get information when I was finally able to make contact and drop off about what should have been done, what to do in the future, etc. I found out later that there was an internal discussion about our drop off after two days of caring for the duckling and the negative impact of human imprinting, but no support was given directly when it would have been most helpful to the duckling. We have also recieved calls asking if we took in animals or where, other than SCEE, that animals can be helped for similar reasons. Now that we are in planning season at the environmental center, I would be interested in partnering in some way to get rescue education out to our (SCEE and Parks and Recreation) community before and during the spring. If there are already education initiatives that we could support or one that we can support in creating, I think it would be beneficial the average person within our community and especially those who Google what to do. Aside from the basic education piece, education can also boost donations. Thank you, Amy, for your support and direction you can give me. This is a wonderful article. Thank you again. Best, Christina

  2. Hi Christina,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response! We’d love to discuss these ideas with you. I’ll pass on your information to one of my colleagues in programming who will reach out to you shortly.

    Amy Whisenhunt, Assistant Director of Individual Giving

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