Friday June 7, 2019
Rescuing and Releasing Baby Animals in Thunderbolt
Sparking a Life’s Mission
When she was only 14, Jeanne Paddison’s father was working on a construction site. The lot next door was being cleared and as a tree came down, the men realized that a nest of baby raccoons had just lost their home. Years ago, there weren’t licensed rehabbers to take the animals and out of compassion, the men divided the homeless bandits to bring to their own homes for care. Jeanne’s father brought a baby raccoon, soon to be named Mandy, for her to save. A lifelong passion was born as she successfully rehabilitated and returned Mandy to the wild.
A Non-Profit Solution
At the Savannah Wildlife Rescue Center in Thunderbolt, Georgia, Jeanne and her over 40 volunteers care for a menagerie of animals. While they target orphaned baby mammals they often accept creatures who have no other place to go. These days, a fledgling owl named Ollie occupies the cage near Jeanne’s desk, healing from the loss of an eye. He was found in the Daffin Park area and brought to the center. Jeanne doesn’t know how he was injured, “We never really know the stories of the animals that come in.”
The center has about 24 interns in that group of volunteers from local colleges, other states and even Germany. They come to have the hands-on experience with animal care. Rescues like Lucy the Otter or the numerous baby fawns need bottle and tube feeding and interaction under Jeanne’s watchful eye, “You want to hold and snuggle them. We can do that for a little bit while the babies are on the bottle. We are their mom and their comfort. As soon as they are weaned, they go into outdoor cages called hacking cages and then are acclimated to being outside to develop a bond with other conspecific animals who will be in their family group once released back in the wild.”
The ultimate goal is to return the animals to their natural habitat and make room for others that need rehabilitation. The non-profit releases animals from June through November at sites approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Not Just a Rescue
In addition to rescuing and rehabilitating animals in our area, the center puts a high priority on outreach, bringing presentations to area schools to educate students about what to do if they find an orphaned wildlife baby. Community service opportunities are also available to the public. Jeanne has spread her expertise by training seven women to become licensed wildlife rehabilitators, a certification that requires supervision for two years by someone already permitted by the DNR.
Help is Needed
The rescue is going on its fifth year as a non-profit, they're third in the Thunderbolt community. Last year, over 845 animals came through the door needing help. Jeanne is thankful to the communities of Thunderbolt and Savannah, “The public is so good about heeding the call for needed items.”
A good bit of donations to the rescue center come from the people that bring in the animals. Once you walk through the door, it’s apparent that there is an atmosphere of competence, cleanliness, and professionalism and also a ton of animals. All that requires money. For example, every raccoon that is rehabilitated costs $220, though that doesn’t take into account the fresh produce required to raise a juvenile raccoon. Last year, there were 170 raccoons in the center. Jeanne hopes that people will be kind enough to put her on a regular donation cycle, “Our biggest need is money. It helps us to buy the supplies we need like species-specific formula, medicines, and fresh produce, especially live baitfish for the otters and beavers. It also helps us pay our rent, electric bill, water bill, and dumpster service. Without this, we can’t exist.”
She’s planning an elegant night out, invitation-only, at the Ships of the Sea Museum in October to help achieve her fundraising goals. Jeanne hopes to get exposure to her work and get the financial support needed to allow her more time with the animals and less time worrying about funding.
Landmark 24 Homes is proud to sponsor the Savannah Wildlife Rescue Center. Jeanne’s compassion for our animal friends is certainly worth supporting!
Donations are accepted through the Savannah Wildlife Center Facebook page and website at these links: