Ninety-nine percent of injured or orphaned wildlife are due to human actions. What measures should you take when you discover injured or orphaned wildlife? Noted Scottish-American naturalist John Muir wrote, “When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”
Since its inception in 2004, the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary has treated almost 3,000 wild animals, representing 60 species of native birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. It has educated local audiences throughout Central Virginia about the habitats and needs of our native wildlife and provided information on what to do when an injured or orphaned animal is found and who to contact for help.
In this podcast, wildlife rehabilitators Jesse Cole and Nathou Attinger talk about some of the organizations past and future projects.
Jessie Cole grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, around animals and nature her whole life. Her wonderful parents, who are animal lovers themselves, instilled in her a passion for helping all kinds of wild and domestic animals. That, coupled with her love of nature, led her to Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary (RWS). Jessie has been working at RWS rehabilitating wildlife, training interns and volunteers, and working on public outreach since 2008. She attended The Covenant School after which she continued her education at Christopher Newport University, where she earned a BS in Biology with a minor in Anthropology. When she graduated in 2008, she returned to Charlottesville where she met Nathou Attinger, founder of RWS, and began her apprenticeship under her guidance to earn her wildlife rehabilitator’s license, which took two years to acquire. Jessie says of RWS, “Every day is a reward to be able to help Virginia’s wildlife, and I could not imagine spending my time on earth any other way. I am so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful organization.”
Nathou Attinger was born in France, and moved to the United States at age 3. Nonhuman animals always fascinated her, and as soon as her family moved to a house with a yard, she started taking care of them. Dogs, cats, turtles, pigeons, raccoons, anything that seems to need her help is scooped up and taken care of in her bedroom. She got her BA in French Literature at UVA, got married and had a daughter. In 1982 she started the Elementary Montessori School of Charlottesville (Mountain Montessori) for her daughter while she was working as the administration head of the Emergency Room at UVA Hospital. Her love of the outdoors won out, however, and she attended Piedmont Virginia Community College at night to learn about landscaping. She then started her own landscaping company. While landscaping, she also attained her wildlife rehabilitator’s license and began to start working with wildlife. She would take baby animals with her while she was landscaping to make sure they could be fed during the day. Finally, in 2004, the Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary was born, and has been growing ever since.
Cole and Attinger spoke at the Wednesday, April 9, 2014 meeting of the Senior Statesmen of Virginia. The meeting was held at the Senior Center in Charlottesville. Following the presentation, questions were taken from the audience. The program was moderated by SSV board member Jim Peterson.