If you’ve ever come across a wounded wild animal, you might not have known what to do with it. Thanks to Sacred Friends, Inc. in Norfolk, you don’t have to wonder any longer.
Founded in 2012 by Jim and Pearl Beamer, Sacred Friends, Inc. is more than a wildlife rehabilitation and education center.
According to their website, “Native American Culture has always played a large role in what we do. We follow many of the cultural practices in our rescues and rehabilitation and honor the animals the same way that natives have honored them for centuries. We specialize in raptors, water birds (loons, herons, pelicans, egrets) but will not turn anything away. Our service area is primarily the Tidewater (Hampton, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk) area but if they can transport the animal to us we will care for it.”
But don’t think for a second anyone can rehabilitate wild animals. Rehabilitators work with veterinarians to assess injuries and diagnose a variety of illnesses. They must be able to administer basic first aid and physical therapy. They need extensive knowledge of every species they rehabilitate because each animal has different diet, cage and rehab requirements.
The federal government, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, protects almost all birds. It requires federal and state permits to work with birds. It also makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, offer for sale, purchase any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued under Federal regulations.
For a rehabilitator to work with mammals, reptiles and amphibians, a State Rehabilitators License is required. Once they get the appropriate permits, they are required to do continuous education by attending conferences, seminars and workshops, by keeping up with published literature and networking with others in their field.
“From feeding an orphaned baby raccoon to keeping detailed records of each animal’s diet and feeding schedule, we do our part to make the world a better place—one adorable animal at a time,” said Sacred Friends’ website.
Sacred Friends’ mission is more than rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned wildlife though. It also includes “The Hawks Nest” program, in which they teach how to live with native wildlife and how to work with the environment, rather than against it, by the use of educational non-releasable animals. Through their “Seven Feathers” Restaurant & Store, they teach Native American culture through meals, crafts, dance, and music.
If you’re interested in volunteering with Sacred Friends, be sure to check out their Volunteer page. They have positions available for animal transporting and care, fundraising, administration, and more.
To contact Sacred Friends about an animal you’ve found or to become a volunteer, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call them between 7 AM-8 PM, at 757-855-2922.
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