A few weeks ago I was asked to join a fellow wildlife photographer associate on a shoot at the Tucson Wildlife Center. This center was established in 1998 by Lisa Bates M.S. and Peter Lininger, and is a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and orphaned wild animals throughout southern Arizona.
The center had a “grand opening” ribbon cutting ceremony introducing a newly built state-of-the-art veterinary hospital complete with trauma center, operating room, x-ray room, and education center. Mayor Rothschild was in attendance and helped in the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Check out the amazing videos on the TWC website.
Many Tucson residents don’t know of this facility but they know them by their white rescue trucks. While living in California we’d often visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium and their sea lion rescue facilities along the coast so we were familiar with rescue, rehabilitate, and release. Now that we make our home in the desert I figured there probably was an organization that did the same for unfortunate desert critters…and so I discovered the Tucson Wildlife Center (not to be confused with the Tucson Wildlife Museum).
The center deals with injured wild animals. Last year they rehabilitated over 1,000 animals, releasing most back into the wild. Some animals were displaced due to housing encroachment while others were injured by automobiles or impacts with windows and buildings. Some of the injured are needing veterinary care that is provided by volunteer veterinary doctors on call and other animals are just disorientated and dehydrated. Here are a few of the more famous inhabitants.
Wilber the Bobcat is epileptic and can’t be returned to the wild. He’s been adopted as an educational Ambassador for the center.
Egor the Black Vulture is another of the educational animals living at the center.
Bubba and Otto are Great Horned Owls. They live at the center since each one has had an injury that would affect their gathering food in the wild. Notice the retina defect in Otto’s eye.
This White Red Tail Hawk is not an Albino he is Leucistic. Leucism affects the pigmentation in animals. In this case the bird is considered leucistic and has dark eyes because the mutation only applies to depositing melanin in the feathers. Albinistic birds on the other hand have pink eyes because without melanin in the body the only color in the eyes comes from the blood vessels behind the eyes.
The Tucson Wildlife Center gives tours by appointment only on Wednesdays & Saturdays. Click on the link and check them out. We can be proud of this amazing Rescue, Rehab, and Release facility here on the east side of Tucson.
Contact them and set up an educational program and don’t forget to Donate or become a Sponsor for the upkeep and well being of our furry, feathery friends of the desert. It is well worth your time and effort.