Careers in Wildlife Rehabilitation
The most obvious group of professionals is those working directly in a wildlife rehabilitation facility. While rehabilitators generally work in private clinics or as part of a larger institution (such as a zoo, aquarium or museum), public agencies at the state and federal levels oversee, inspect, and advise clinics. Many facilities also employ educators to work with non-releasable wildlife in public programs.
While some positions are paid, many rehabilitators are volunteers. Competition for paid positions can be keen, additional education and experience will give you the edge when you’re ready to seek employment. Who works with wildlife rehabilitation?
- Wildlife rehabiltators
- Marine mammal strandings
- Education Coordinators
- Wildlife Rehabilitation managers
- Volunteer coordinators
- Museum educators
- Raptor rehabilitators
- Animal care technicians
- Wildlife educators
- Oil program coordinators
- Animal hospital managers
- Veterinary directors
- Veterinary technicians
What do some of these careers entail?
Wildlife rehabilitators are involved in all aspects of wildlife care, from intake to release back into the wild(hopefully). Rehabiltators work with the public, taking information when animals arrive into their facility and providing critical care or enlisting the help of their veterinarian when necessary. Rehabiltators are involved in feeding, care of wounds and injures, and the cleaning & maintenance of both the animals and the facilities. Many institutions will require additional vaccines, such as rabies, to work with native animals that are considered rabies vector species. As animals grow and heal they may need to be exercised and gradually re-accustomed to the wild prior to release.
Wildlife rehabilitators also work with the public, whether they are involved in education, animal intake or simply dealing with people that call or come to their facility. They help to manage human-wildlife conflict, educating the public about wildlife needs and promoting good conservation practices.
Wildlife educators may work with public school systems. They design and write educational programs for school children and should be comfortable with public speaking. Depending on the size of the institution, educators may deliver the programs themselves or send staff members to deliver the programs. Many states have formal standards that the programs try to meet; wildlife educators may spend time familiarizing themselves with the curriculum to ensure that their programs will be an integral part of the teachers' lesson plans. Thus, educators should have a good working knowledge of educational standards and teaching methods.
Private rehabilitation facilities also provide educational programs to schoolchildren or to private groups such as camps or even birthday parties and similar events. The programs use live animals and/or animal artifacts to engage and teach. Wildlife educators need a thorough understanding of the animals, their natural history, and their behavior.
Vets & Vet Techs
Veterinary assistants and technicians may work with veterinarians that provide services to wildlife clinics or rescue organizations. While clinic staff provides much of the medical care on site, outside veterinarians are needed for surgeries and any advanced procedures.
While paid positions exist, a great many wildlife rehabilitators work as volunteers, often running their own facilities. However, whether they are paid or not, rehabilitators have an obligation to be fully trained in proper care, husbandry and ethics in their chosen profession.
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