Emotional Lives of Animals

The Parade magazine article below is timely. I've seen what seems to be an understanding from the animals in our care. It's not just a natural "fear" or debilitated weakness induced by injury, but rather, what seems to be a tolerance or even appreciation. Yes, I know that I'm anthropomorphising, but there's not other way to explain it without applying our own words.

Visiting with a friend today, I felt affirmation as we watched a YouTube video of a water buffalo family defending their calf from a pride of lions. See for yourself and decide if they're logical thinkers with emotion or not.

Either way, I hope the readers of this bulletin, especially those who watch the video, will have a heightened appreciation for the emotional lives of animals.

It is these amazing beings that we serve, providing the best we can to help them in their times of need to either survive or pass peacefully from this world. We couldn't do it without your continued support. Thank you.

How Much Do Animals Really Know?
By Eugene Linden
Published: July 29, 2007

We all want to believe our pet is as smart as it seems, and every now and then a dog or cat does something astonishing. In 2003 in Kentucky, a dog named Scooby limped to a vet’s office after being hit by a car. A year later in Richland, Wash., a rottweiler named Faith hit 911 on the speed dial with its nose and barked into the phone after its owner fell out of her wheelchair.

Are these slam-dunk cases of animal intelligence? The answer used to be a definitive “no,” but now we can say “maybe.”

Scientists are seeing evidence of higher mental abilities in a wider range of animals than previously imagined. They’ve also observed unexpected traits and skills, like empathy and the ability to fashion weapons.

Empathy—being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes—is important because it is the basis of morality. But empathy is very difficult to prove. Actions don’t always imply intent. Thus, skeptics have tended to dismiss accounts of chimps helping other chimps, dolphins saving drowning people and elephants supporting their injured herd mates. In lab experiments, rats have been shown to refuse food if their eating causes suffering for other rats. But Harvard biologist Marc Hauser has pointed out that the rats might simply be avoiding unpleasant squealing.

Empathy relies on self-awareness. Only an animal that recognizes itself can understand another’s plight. So there’s the gauntlet: If you can prove that an animal knows it is a separate creature from others, the case for animal empathy becomes stronger.

A widely used test for a sense of self is to see whether an animal recognizes itself in a mirror. Experimenters will put a mark on an animal’s forehead, then place the animal in front of a mirror. Monkeys, cats and rats react as though they are encountering another member of their species and have shown no curiosity about the mark. By contrast, dolphins and great apes realize that they are looking at themselves.

Do elephants care?
Elephants have the largest brain of any land animal, but not much is known about how they use it.

Last fall, Joshua Plotnik, an Emory University graduate student, published the results of a mirror test he’d done with elephants. Working with Emory’s Frans de Waal, a pioneer in the study of chimpanzee intelligence, and Diana Reiss, who devised a version of the mirror test for dolphins, Plotnik installed a sturdy 8x8-foot Plexiglass mirror in an enclosure at New York City’s Bronx Zoo. Keepers painted a white X on the foreheads of three females—Maxine, Patty and Happy. Then Plotnik sat back and enjoyed the show.

The results were fascinating. The three females seemed to recognize right off the bat that the image was not another elephant. They experimented with the reflected image just like kids—moving their heads to the side and watching how the mirror image reacted. Happy used the image to guide her trunk so that she could examine the white X marked on her forehead.

It may not sound like much, but this means that Happy has a prerequisite for recognizing that another animal—or human—needs help. And if Happy has the capacity for empathy, so do all elephants.

That’s what seemed to happen once at the Indianapolis Zoo. Sophi, a female elephant, watched her keepers push a heavy cart across the yard after cleaning up the enclosure. The elephant had never received any training to do chores, but suddenly she started to push too. Was Sophi displaying empathy? We have no way of knowing, notes Deborah Olson, a director at the zoo, but the staff keenly felt Sophi’s attachment to them.

Actually, examples of animal empathy have long been noted. What’s new today is that scientists seem ready to accept the idea that animals may be conscious or smart. Frans de Waal cites an example of chimp empathy dating back to 1910: A Russian scientist couldn’t get a chimp to come down from a roof unless she pretended she was hurt. Only now are such stories receiving a hearing in the scientific establishment.

We are now much freer to talk about mental processes and emotions in animals that 15 years ago would have been laughed out of the room,” says de Waal.

Animals bearing arms
The use of tools—and weapons—is considered a mark of higher intelligence. In the 1960s, the idea that animals might fashion weapons was the stuff of science-fiction films. Then, in 1999, a team led by Richard Wrangham of Harvard observed chimps using sticks to beat other chimps. Even more stunning were reports published this spring by Jill Pruetz of Iowa State University about chimps in the savannas of Senegal fashioning sticks into spears, which they used to hunt small primates called bush babies.

These chimps may have been hunting for a very long time—there’s evidence that they pass on such expertise from generation to generation. The primatologist Christopher Boesch has observed chimps using granite stones to crack panda nuts in the Ivory Coast’s Tai Forest since the 1980s. But this year, Boesch and Julio Mercader of the University of Calgary uncovered nut-cracking stones in that same forest dating back 4,300 years—even before early Africans started using agriculture. This means that, unknown to science, the chimps have been doing something in close proximity to humans for thousands of years.

As scientists continue to investigate evidence of intelligence, empathy and foresight in animals, we’re also likely to broaden our understanding of the origins and nature of human ingenuity. Such studies should increase our respect for the other creatures with whom we share the planet.


Three orphaned Barred owls discovered this spring are getting a second chance thanks to the efforts of HAWK Center (Helping Arkansas Wild “Kritters”) “They have graduated from mouse academy and are ready to move out on their own” said Lynne Slater, HAWK Center Executive Director. They have been living with a foster parent, a HAWK Center educational ambassador who has served as a role model for the young owls. “We want our orphaned raptors to grow up knowing they’re predatory birds and not thinking they’re humans. It’s safer for everyone that way and they (the owls) will have a higher chance at success.” said Slater.

HAWK Center and Lake Dardanelle State Park invite you to join them as they release these three young barred owls on Wednesday, July 18, at 7:00 p.m.. Following a short presentation about HAWK Center at the Lake Dardanelle State Park Visitor Center, the young adult owls will be released at the park. Because HAWK Center wishes to give the released owls the best chance possible, a forecast of heavy rain will postpone the release.

“We’re a 100% volunteer, donation funded organization. This is our payday. This is why we do what we do & I hope that by sharing this release, more people will be inspired to get involved. It’s exciting every time we have a chance to return an injured or orphaned animal to the wild. You can’t help but be moved.” said Slater.

Rain date: Thursday, July 19, 7:00 p.m. Contact Amber Mascuilli to confirm 479-967-5516

Photo by Lynne Slater (Foster parent looks after orphaned Barred owlets)


HAWK has joined the MySpace world! With a gentle nudge from a colleague and friend, I was persuaded to set HAWK Center up on MySpace. It's a great resource to connect us to other wildlife rehabilitators and those who believe in what we do. Check it out!

Arkansas Audubon Halberg Ecology Camp: I hope you're up for the challenge

I just got home from the second 2007 presentation to Arkansas Audubon Halberg Ecology Camp. What a great group of students they are – as always! However, this particular group touched me in a way I haven't seen before.

After the presentation, rounds of questions, photo opportunities, etc., I was packing up when several students started to line up and hand me dollar bills. I was very pleasantly surprised to say the least. Their total contribution added up to $28! I was so impressed that this group of 11 & 12 year old students was so generous to give up their unsolicited canteen money because they wanted to help our wildlife rehabilitation efforts.

Here's the challenge for those reading this: Help us by matching the students' contribution. You can donate by snail mail (HAWK Center, PO Box 1922, Russellville, AR 72811-1922) or through PayPal on our website (hawkcenter.org). Your contribution will be extremely helpful for us as we improve our flight conditioning enclosures. Thank you in advance.

Lynne Slater, Executive Director
HAWK Center (Helping Arkansas Wild "Kritters")
PO Box 1922, Russellville, AR 72811-1922

"Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals "love" them. But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more."
~Edwin Way Teale~ Circle of the Seasons, 1953

HAWK Center is a 100% volunteer organization, funded solely by donations.

Baby Season

It's baby season at HAWK Center. Lynne has returned from helping at Primarily Primates and the pager is ringing off the hook. Fortunately, more of those calls are educational and result in a reunion of babies with parents, than patient intake.

Lynne learned a tremendous amount while volunteering in Texas, such as long term planning for an animal care organization, including caging and funding. The foresight she received as a result of someone else not having any, will be beneficial to the animals in care at HAWK Center.

Unfortunately for the animals at PPI, on May 1, Primarily Primates was returned to former management minus Wallace Swett. They have a "reformed" board. The AG turned his back on the animals at PPI. All of us are is disbelief. We are continuing to fight for the animals by pressuring FoA and PPI to do right by the animals in their care. Please visit www.primarilyprimatesxposed.com

Still Helping....

Back in Arkansas, things are going smoothly and our caseload is low. That is very fortunate and allows Lynne to remain in San Antonio, Texas, to help the situation at Primarily Primates.

Because of her background in Human Resources and Non-Profit Administration, the Court Appointed Receiver has asked Lynne to stay through the jury trial in January. She is now serving as (volunteer) Interim Administrative Director for Primarily Primates until the legal case is resolved and a paid director can be hired.

If you or someone you know would like to volunteer, PPI needs a lot of assistance.


Jane Garrison, janegarrison@comcast.net (volunteers with primate experience)
Kate Danaher, katedanaher@animalearthhuman.org (general volunteers)
Off-Site Volunteer Coordination Support
On behalf of State of Texas Appointed Receiver for Primarily Primates

Both general public and professional support are needed at PPI. Any experience working with primates will be an asset. There is much to do and a lot of bodies are needed to accomplish the tasks. Volunteering is on one's own expense and liability. You should be sure to have a current, tetanus, TB test and your flu shots if at all possible. This project will take a long time (3-6 months), so even if you can't go right now, you're availability will be appreciated when you can come.

Primarily Primates
26099 Dull Knife Trail San Antonio, TX 78255
Main Office: 830-755-4616
Fax 855-755-4611, 830-755-4618

If someone cannot physically help, there are huge financial needs
to get the animals taken care of. Due to pending investigations, all PPI assets have been frozen. Therefore, Donations are most welcome and needed.

To provide immediate care for the animals Please make checks payable to:
Primarily Primates, Lee Theisen-Watt, Receiver

and send to:

Lee Theisen-Watt
State of Texas Appointed Receiver for Primarily Primates
26099 Dull Knife Trail
San Antonio, TX 78255

Update: The Conservation Trust @ Primarily Primates, Inc

This evening, I heard from one volunteer who just returned from PPI. She related it really is horrid, but she said the primates are not as frantic as they were a week ago. She says they now have blankets, enrichment and fresh food but there is still so much to do and just no volunteers.

According to the volunteer, everyone wants to feed the monkeys, but no one wants to clean (I mean really clean), clear brush or pick up garbage. She spent most of her time rounding up domestics for the SPCA (they are nearly all gone: turkeys, peacocks, chickens, geese, guinea pigs, pot-bellied pigs, horses, dogs and goats. There are still watusi cattle - think longhorn cattle on steroids, two emus and a few parrot types. The SPCA will be back for them.) Then, she worked in the aviary clearing brush so the poor tamarins will have a better home. The volunteer also said "you'll cry when you see what they are living in."

Volunteer's words: "There are lots of sad cases, but Daryll sticks out. He's a chimp that has been by himself for seven months inside a cage. No light except for what came under the door. The door is now open and he has access to two other inside cages, but that's it. Just makes you want to scream. Lee needs lots of support and help. They go back to court on Friday.....Everyone is saying silent prayers that it goes in the animals' favor."

Both general public and professional support are needed at PPI. Any experience working with primates will certainly be an asset, but definitely not required! There is much to do and a lot of bodies are needed to accomplish the tasks. Please let those with whom you're connected know that volunteering is on one's own expense and liability. You should be sure to have a current TB test and your flu shots if at all possible.

In addition to volunteers from various rescue and rehabilitation organizations, there are also primate keepers from several zoos who plan to make the trip. Some of those organizations to be represented include: Fort Worth Zoo, Hogle Zoo (Salt Lake City), Brookfield Zoo, Little Rock Zoo, a Maryland zoo, Texas A&M Vet School.

If someone cannot physically help, there are huge financial needs to get the animals taken care of. Due to pending investigations, all PPI assets have been frozen. Therefore, Donations are most welcome and needed. Please send donations to provide immediate care for the seized animals to:

Lee Thiesen-Watt, Receiver/Primarily Primates
26099 Dull Knife Trail
San Antonio, TX 78253

I'm going down on Monday (10/30), but anyone who shows up will be needed, appreciated and definitely have work to do - no need to wait for me. :) This project will take a long time, so even if you can't go right now, you're availability will be appreciated when you come.

As far as specific supplies, here's a starter list:
  • Money (They've even set up a PayPal account)
  • Chest Freezers
  • stove
  • washer dryer
  • fruits
  • veggies
  • raw nuts
  • blankies
  • bedding, bedding, more bedding
  • socks
  • old jeans
  • t-shirts
If any of our readers can rally some troops, we really need help down there. Send them my way and I'll get them coordinated. Thanks!

Urgent Plea for Assistance from The Conservation Trust

Lee Theisen-Watt just phoned me with an urgent request for help. As the Executive Director of The Conservation Trust, she has been given the huge responsibility of court-appointed receiver of nearly 1,000 animals in the October 13th raid and shut-down of Primarily Primates, Inc.

As a result of documented animal suffering and death at the hands of PPI's negligent director, PETA filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in May 2006. The complaint documented PPI's failure to meet its charitable mission in behalf of the animals confined there.

Lee told me there are hundreds of animals (not just primates, but also large to medium sized felines and other animals), many in "abjectly filthy and inhumane conditions, including open sewage, and chimpanzees and other primates confined to tiny dark enclosures and barren cells"

I plan to go down to San Antonio to help out, probably leaving Arkansas on October 29th...going from there directly to the Raptor Conference in Lubbock on the 9th of November. If Anyone can help in any way, Lee would be most grateful! She said she guarantees you can help with preparing food and cleaning. She said there's no need to even call...just show up.

If you can't go and help physically, your donation is most welcome and needed. Please send donations to provide immediate care for the seized animals to:

Lee Thiesen-Watt
ReceiverPrimarily Primates
C/O Vance and Sailors
334 W. Mistletoe Ave.
San Antonio, TX 78212-3301

To read more about the whole situation, here are some references:

If you'd like to join me, please email me privately at hawkcenter@earthlink.net

P.S. Pass it on.....

New way to get involved.... Release

If you'd like squirrels released on your property, let us know. After we determine the site is suitable for releasing our precious charges, you'll need to build a squirrel house to bring us (Click here for the plans). Immediately after they wean, we'll provide to the babies, the house you built for them. When ready for release, they're accustomed to the house as home. We close the hole while they're sleeping and move the entire house to the new location. When we open the "door", their view may be different, but home is still home.

They often stay in this house for a long time and if placed properly, you might see your squirrel raising babies there. If your squirrel decides to move on to new territory, these house plans are also accommodating for screech owls, kestrels, and other small cavity dwellers.

Even if you don't want squirrels released in your yard, we can still use the boxes, so please, drop us a note if you can help!

Live Entertainment

I spent a good hour watching our little squirrels today. I gave them a huge dish full of food. A wide assortment of natural foods, it's fun and very entertaining to watch them fight over some things while others go straight for a particular item, digging deep for it and throwing everything else aside to find it.

Three squirrels will be released tomorrow, one of which came in with a broken front leg. (Eventually, I'll get the video of her up on our YouTube account so everyone can watch). Although she was a solo, two of her foster siblings will be released with her. Three squirrels and their box house will be driven down to Little Rock to hang in a tree in the yard of the solo's finder. They'll be soft released, with food provided as long as they continue to return for it. It's always hard to see them go, but it's a bittersweet sadness. That's what we do this for, after all! Plus, soft release allows for follow up. The rest of the fall babies will be released next week. We just had to separate the group because the little one with her broken leg was promised back at the home of her finder.

Hit Counter

I was just looking at our website hit counter. There, I can see which pages people have been looking at, what resource sent them there, and if we were found in a search engine, I can see what the search was for and how highly we ranked in that search. I'm amazed!

I can tell when I've posted something of interest to a listserv, because the hit counter jumps like a spring board. But, the most commonly visited spot on our whole web site is the "Locate" link. I'm delighted to see that we are helping people (who have found injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals) to get connected with appropriate rehabilitators/facilities as quickly as possible, because that's part of our primary directive.

So far this year, we've had an average of eight hits (individual visitors) per day. Now, wouldn't it be a perfect world if each person who visited our site, made a donation of one dollar per visit? We would certainly get those new cages finished in a flash! Remember, HAWK is a 100% volunteer operated, donation funded organization. We welcome and need your support! This means financial contributions, in-kind donations, and volunteers.

Although HAWK Center has been incorporated in Arkansas as a non-profit organization since 2001, we just now have enough finances to be able to file for charitable status. As our next administrative project, we're actively seeking assistance in the filing process. Contact us if you'd like to get involved with HAWK Center in any way.


That's the noise the tiny little bird made when it flew into the reflection of the sky. The window was not forgiving and the little bird went down quickly. Fortunately for this little bird, the homeowner called HAWK Center. I just happened to be in town so told the caller I'd be by within thirty minutes.

When I arrived, she had the tiny finch sized bird sequestered in a cardboard box, out of reach of the prying eyes and hands of her toddler. She didn't know if it would still be alive as we slowly peeked into the box. No sooner than a crack was open, the little bird came flying out and flitted around her kitchen. Toddler #1 looked like a cat on the prowl and was eager to help catch the bird. Although the easiest solution would be to open the door and let it go, I hadn't yet done a physical on the bird and was yet unsure of its' readiness to go free. So, in a flash I grabbed the tiny bird and quickly identified it as a Yellow Rumped Warbler.

Seeing no signs of central nervous system damage, and no obvious broken bones, I took it home for one night of observation. All looked great by morning so I packed the little one back in his box and took him back to the place he was found. Opening the box, he flew out faster than he did in the lady's kitchen yesterday! He promptly went up into some birch trees, where I was able to watch him flutter around after bugs. That's what it's all about!

Thanks to Arkansas Birder and Photographer Dean Rossa from Jonesboro for the photo. Our patient was in and out too quickly to get a picture of him. To see more of Dean's pictures, click here

Long Time No Post!

Just because I haven't written in a very long time, doesn't mean nothing has been going on. It's quite the contrary. We've had a rather busy summer and I apologize for not keeping you up to date. I do have a lot of stories to post and although they won't match the day they happened, they're good stories none-the-less. So, it's back to the Blogger Board for me!

Fallen improving

Our little fallen Barred Owl has been steadily improving and has been placed in the resident care of our Educational Ambassador Mack. Having a foster mom is the best option for this baby because his condition requires monitoring. Some days, he shows real progress, yet other days, he seems to have some kind of lapse. We wanted to get him back out in the nest, but his erratic condition prohibits it at this point. Although Mack doesn't feed the baby, she is there as a visual aid for him. He sees her as the source of food rather than his care givers. Meanwhile, he's starting to eat on his own and soon we'll be able to move him into our large flight conditioning cage with live prey training area. As always, we'll keep you posted!

It's Down to the Wire

It's all about the wire. Barbed wire, that is. This evil, torturing killer, has claimed yet another victim.

A juvenile Great Horned Owl was found tangled in barbed wire late yesterday afternoon by a land surveyor working in Hackett. Her struggle was evident as she had extensive blood loss and bilateral damage to her wings. The surveyor carefully removed her exhausted and weak body from the fence and quickly transported her to our volunteer in Fort Smith, who met me in Ozark. Straight to the clinic we went, for Dr. Davis to do an evaluation.

His exam revealed a shredded patagial tendon on the left wing and a deep laceration on the right wing. Extremely weak, we provided antibiotics and fluids. A total of four hours had passed since she was found and the whole ordeal had to be overwhelming for such a young bird. We provided her with the best care possible, but she gave up the fight a mere three hours later, somewhere around eleven p.m..

When Dr. Davis called me this morning with the sad news of her passing, it gave me a lump in my throat. This young life destroyed for what?! I can't fathom how many animals are severely maimed by barbed wire and never found. Rather, they die an awful death. I am consoled by only the fact that our bird was at least in a safe, warm, quiet place when she passed from this world. Everything else about her death was senseless.

Gone Batty

The recent calls for bats have not dwindled. In fact, they've increased. I've investigated attics, rescued and transported pups, and even nurtured a couple of red bat pups myself. The tiny members of the bat family are an enigma to me and I realize I need to learn much more about them. I would love to go to "Bat Boot Camp" offered by Bat World. The tuition for the five day course is about $600 plus transportation, food and lodging. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation through sponsorship of me or another Arkansas wildlife rehabilitator to attend this invaluable training, please contact me.

Bear on the Loose!

Early Sunday morning, the Russellville police department received several 911 calls about a bear in town. Close proximity to humans is not a safe place for any bear, and that was the circumstance that caused a call to Dr. Davis. A quick call around and he had a borrowed dart gun in hand, ready to dart the bear for relocation. Once on site, an Arkansas Game & Fish biologist made it there in time and Dr. Davis didn't need to use his borrowed equipment. The bear was safely darted and relocated to northern Pope County, where it and the public will be safer. To read the news report about the bear, visit this link.

This brings up the subject of a dart gun. About a month ago, a very generous individual made a cash donation towards the purchase of a dart gun for HAWK Center. That money has been set aside as dedicated funds. Although the donation was substantial, we need about $500 more to purchase the dart gun we need. In the past month, we've had three circumstances where a dart gun was needed. If you can contribute towards this purchase, please contact us.

Fallen update

Now standing (although very wobbly) and begging for food, the downy little Barred Owl is obviously starting to feel a bit better. Every couple of hours, I bring him chopped mice, which I feed through a hole in the box so he doesn't see me. We don't want him to associate my face with the food, so this way, all he sees is food coming versus the provider of the food. A couple more days of this kind of improvement and he'll be back with his family before we know it!

Fallen from the nest

Late Thursday afternoon, a lady brought in a downy Barred Owl she had found on the ground in Dover. With his eyelids bruised and him unable to stand, I determined we did need to intake him. We'll provide him with medical care to stabilize and hopefully get him back out to the nest quickly. Dr. Davis evaluated him on Friday and believes there are no fractures yet there is plenty of bruising. He administered some steroids and antibiotics. With a couple days of TLC we hope the little one will be standing and alert in just a couple of days so we can get him back with his parents.


The fledgling Blue Jay I mentioned in the previous post was brought to Dr. Davis yesterday. We evaluated his condition and he has a fractured humerus. We may be able to set it, but we cannot pin it. Sadly, this rambunctious teen is still begging his parents for food, but is too wild to accept it from me. I have to force feed him and it is extremely stressful on him. I'll give him another day to see if he settles down enough to realize that I am not going to hurt him & if he starts accepting food from me or he starts eating on his own. If he does neither, I will have to choose euthanasia - not my choice alternative.


Two fledgling birds were brought into the clinic on Thursday morning. One, a robin. The other, a Blue Jay. Perfectly healthy, we determined they had been unwittingly kidnapped. After calling the finder, I arranged to stop by with these "teenagers" and attempt to reunite them with their families. The caller was concerned about dogs and cats in the area, but I convinced her that I would carefully evaluate the situation before putting anything back there.

I arrived to her home and saw that her entire front and back yards were fenced in for her dogs. Hmmmm, I thought. The dogs DO have access to everywhere the little robin might want to go. The finder showed me around and I discovered a protected area of the yard where we might be able to put the babies. I brought the robin over to that corner and opened the box. His calling immediately attracted the attention of both parents and they came over to investigate. Seeing both parents there, and interested in their baby, I convinced the finder to allow me to pull the fence back to block off the area, providing a safe place for the teen to test those wings until he gets the hang of it. She agreed, reluctantly, and we put the baby in a safe place. It was very hard for her to walk away, but I convinced her that the parents could do a much better job than we.

Next, was what to do with the Blue Jay. She thought it best to foster him into another nest, so I brought him along with me to put with a Jay family with which I am familiar. On my way to that family, I was only two blocks up the road and I came across an injured fledgling in the road with two parents frantically trying to get him to move. I stopped the car, jumped out and grabbed the injured baby. Then, thinking quickly, I returned to the car and swapped injured for healthy. I put the healthy orphan into a tree from where the parents were calling. As I returned to my car, I watched. Both parents came down immediately to their new baby to take care of him. I don't know what is going to happen with the injured fledgling, but I know the healthy one has gone to a good home.

And MORE Bats!

Again, we were called out to the same spot for more baby bats on the ground. Since it was the third call from the same place, I ascertained that the site has a problem! I decided to investigate.

Upon arriving, several individuals came out to meet me and showed me the bats all over the ground at the apartment complex. Some pups were clinging to the wall for dear life. There was an obvious nesting roost two stories up and plenty of feces on the ground below. The stench of a nesting colony could be smelled from the ground. I evaluated the situation and the babies. They were all very dehydrated and would surely die if left there. I gathered them, four this time, and set off to bring them to a bat expert.

En route to the bat man in Little Rock, Joel Dunaway, the bats chattered the whole way. I was assured by their chattering that they were still with me, but very hungry and upset. I also took the time to call the manager of the apartment complex, who detailed to me that the colony has lived here for four years and eradication has been attempted before. She agreed that we could make an attempt to intervene, hoping to evict the colony. Their residence here is not only a risk to the bats, but also a health risk to the paying residents. Joel will come up on Saturday and we'll see if we can't figure out some solution.

We haven't yet determined the species of bat, but there was a deceased and desiccated adult on the ground near the babies. It's large size lead me to believe they may be Big Brown Bats. We'll see what these little ones turn in to.

Chattering in the Chimney

What was that noise? Scratching and chattering....up and down, only at dusk and dawn. Fellow wildlife rehabilitator, Krystal Moore, from Conway set out to resolve the question. A quick look with a flashlight revealed several pair of eyes staring back at her and she knew in an instant it was raccoons. A few emails between us and a resolution was decided to try to trap mama and babies for removal and relocation. The babies came easily and were all trapped the first night. Mama coon came back that night and looked frantically for her babies, which had been taken away. Krystal was heartsick about the mom losing her babies and was determined to reunite the family. The second night, Krystal put out a live trap with a fresh can of stinky canned cat food. She placed the crying babies near by in a kennel cab to attract mama coon's attention. It worked and the mama was quickly trapped. Krystal contacted HAWK Center in the morning when removing the trap. She had noticed the mama coon had a severe laceration to her belly and would need medical attention. So, I drove to meet her half way in Morrilton.

As we loaded the trapped raccoon from Krystal's car to mine, it was obvious that the coon was very angry and in pain. The skin on her belly was hanging loose and I worried about the outcome. Krystal thought the coon had ripped herself open on the trap and I assured her that this injury had happened elsewhere. I loaded the babies in case we could still reunite the family, and then Krystal & I parted company. She, back to work, and I to Dr. Davis for the mama coon.

At the clinic, we immediately anesthetized the raccoon and quickly assessed her physical condition. Her belly was indeed ripped open, but not from any laceration. She had suffered from mastitis, a sometimes severe infection of the mammary glands. This infection literally caused her teat to split open, resulting in a deep gaping wound. Because of the severity of her wound, the time it would take to heal, and the requirements to clean the wound would mean daily anesthesia, we chose to euthanize. It wasn't an easy decision, especially because of the babies she would leave behind.

Sadly, we now have four truly orphaned raccoon babies. On the way home, I dropped them off with another Russellville rehabilitator who only had a solo baby. The solo will benefit tremendously from having new siblings, so all is well in the end.

Bats again

Sadly, the four little bats all perished. The first two, within an hour of intake (one actually in transit), and the other two, within twelve hours. They had been a whole day without nutrition and by the time we got them, they were very dehydrated and thin. Although they ate eagerly, it was just a little too late for these pups. I'm not sure what species they were, but I'm guessing they were in the myotis family, possibly "Big Brown" bats. I read that these bats have nursery colonies and the babies often end up on the ground, where they cry incessantly until their mothers come swoop by and pick them up. So, we learned something from these little ones. The experience they provided us will help future cases.


This morning, someone dropped off two tiny baby bats at the clinic. The staff set up a heating pad to keep them warm, then they called me. By the time I was able to pick them up, one had died. The second one was very hungry and was squeaking up a storm. As I was feeding him, the pager went off and I called. The person on the other end was the individual who had brought in the two bats....she found two more. We arranged to meet in Russellville in 15 minutes and I quickly wrapped up the feeding session for bat #1. As I met her, she showed me two more little ones, just like the first. One was cold and weak and I was dubious it would live long. By the time I had gotten home, it too, had passed away. #3 is weak, but fighting. The living two bats (#'s 1 & 3) eat well and are cuddled up next to each other. If they make it through the night, I'll get them to someone with more bat pup experience than I.

Sick Raccoon update

I'm sad to report that last Tuesday, we did end up choosing euthanasia for the sick raccoon. He had been scratching himself and making the wound even deeper. With no way to bandage his face or to otherwise keep him from scratching it, we had no other alternative. The injury had to have been excruciating and was only getting worse, so we feel we made the right choice.