Center and Otter Habitat
By Tracy Johnston
One-time Resident of the Wildlife Rehabilitation
Center, photo by Barbara Gregory
This June I had the privilege of visiting The Wildlife Rehabilitation
Center and Otter Habitat located near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Typically,
caretaker Barbara Gregory oversees the rehabilitation of over 600
mammals and perching birds every year and is well on her way to exceeding
that number this year. When I visited the facility, Barbara was busy
caring for injured animals, including tube-feeding a tiny fawn with
a shattered jaw. Other temporary residents I observed in rehabilitation
included a second fawn, a beaver, several birds and geese.
a former resident of the center, photo by Barbara Gregory
Barbara's goal is to rehabilitate and release every animal which arrives
at the facility, some simply would not survive if returned to the
wild due to various types of disabilities. Permanent homes must be
found when these situations occur. Often, we think of zoos as ideal
places for these types of animals. However, zoos unfortunately do
not generally accept animals which are not "cosmetically perfect."
Therefore facilities such as rehabilitation centers may be the only
long-term option for such animals.
Permanent "non-releasable" residents at The Wildlife Rehabilitation
Center and Otter Habitat include three otters, a beaver, a raven,
an owl, and a lion. The otters include adult male and female river
otters and their 1 1/2-year-old female offspring. The adult male,
Emmett is missing part of his tail. The adult female, Tripod is missing
her left front leg. In spite of these disabilities, Emmett and Tripod
are healthy and happy and living in a large wooden house attached
to a wire grain silo where their 300 gallon swimming tub is located.
Their daughter, Lori B. also lives at the facility in another enclosure
with a slide and swimming tub of her own. Barbara sometimes brings
Lori B. along on lectures to help educate people on the facility and
the work they do for animals.
The Center has been in operation for eighteen years and is licensed
by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the U.S. Government. As a
private facility, all funding is through donations, membership fees,
educational talks, and tours. For information on opportunities to
help, including the "Adopt an Otter" program which helps pay for the
food and care of the resident otters, contact Barbara Gregory, Wildlife
Rehabilitation Center and Otter Habitat, 515 Sipe Road, York Haven,
PA 17370; phone: 717-938-4040; fax: 717-938-8231.
B.", photo by Barbara Gregory