The Raptor Center (TRC) is humbled to work with the incredible species that we do. With this work comes the enormous responsibility to ensure we’re providing them the highest level of care possible. Whether one of the over 1,000 patients that come in injured, sick, or orphaned needing care, or one of our 27 education ambassador birds our team works endlessly to ensure excellence in care and welfare for every single individual.
But what do we mean by “animal welfare”? The American Veterinary Medical Association defines animal welfare as “how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives.” Good animal welfare involves an animal being physically and mentally healthy. It means they are comfortable, well-nourished, and able to express normal behaviors, as well as free from pain, fear, and distress.
Wild birds are admitted to our clinic for a variety of reasons, but they all share a level of fear and stress. Wild birds don’t understand that we are trying to help them. That is why every action done in our hospital utilizes the expertise of our veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and volunteers to reduce stress, minimize pain, and create an environment where these birds can heal, regain their strength, and return to the wild as soon as possible.
The permanent ambassador birds in our education team require different considerations to ensure their best welfare. They are provided engaging environments, which offer safety and choice, and they are given the opportunity to positively engage with their caretakers each day. Being cared for by our team, they live longer than their wild counterparts, meaning we encounter geriatric (age-related) conditions, like arthritis and heart problems, that may not be seen in the wild. These require unique treatments and monitoring to keep our ambassadors as comfortable and healthy as possible. We constantly strive to improve and provide the best welfare possible to these vital team members.
Excellence in animal care and welfare is at the heart of everything we do, whether working hard to give wild birds a second chance at life or inspiring the public through our education ambassadors. In this issue of Raptor Release, we dive into how we deliver this excellence and how we amplify it to the broader world.
The care we can provide and the success stories we can tell from our hospital are all thanks to supporters like you. So thank you very much from myself, The Raptor Center community, and the birds who get a second chance because of your support and generosity.
Victoria Hall, DVM, MS, DACVPM
Executive Director and Redig Endowed Chair
in Raptor and Ecosystem Health