NAPLES, Fla. — We’ve all heard of mothers hosting baby showers, but what about wildlife?
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida are doing just that and at a critical time. The longer days and warmer temperatures mean animals are starting their breeding season.
“We get babies of all species this time of year.”
At the Conservancy it’s all about nurturing the vulnerable. That’s because right now marks the start of breeding season. A crucial time of year for Southwest Florida’s young wildlife.
“We’re getting a lot of marsh rabbits, and eastern cottontails, we have some raccoons right now- it’s just a wide variety," says Joanna Fitzgerald, Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital. "And like everybody knows babies are labor intensive. They take many feedings throughout the day and into the night, so it’s just a busy, busy time at the hospital overall.”
Anytime an animal is admitted, Fitzgerald is the one who checks them out and helps them on their road to recovery.
"These guys are very helpless, they’re delicate, and any lack of care can be very detrimental to them," she says. "So we need them to be brought to the hospital as soon as they’re found if they need help.”
And right now they need that help. With the growing number of babies this breeding season, the Conservancy is asking for a little aid.
"We have different milk replacement formula that’s specifically made for wildlife," said Fitzgerald. "Cage furnishings like mirrors so if a baby comes in by itself, it can sit next to the mirror and feel like it has a litter mate with it. Different bowls, cleaning supplies- we’re constantly cleaning.”
The hospital cares for more than 4,300 patients a year. They say the main reason they receive the babies starts with what happens in our own backyards.
"It is super important for people to keep track of their pets, especially this time of year because so many babies are helpless out there. It is our number one cause- that and landscaping.”
And the Conservancy says help is always needed either by feeding hungry tummies or by hand.
“These babies are labor intensive and there’s a lot of them," Fitzgerald said. "So we need a lot of all hands on deck type of thing. There’s so many different ways to get involved, whether donating, volunteering, just even a membership helps support what we do.”
If you'd like to learn more about the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, follow this link. The virtual baby shower starts June 4 and will be running all month long.