VENICE, Fla. -- Hurricane Irma left some wildlife homeless especially the young ones.
“This is the Easter Gray Squirrel the most common patient we got through the storm,” says Kevin Barton with the Wildlife Center of Venice as he pulls out a baby squirrel out of a plastic box the size of a shoe box. The squirrel is so young its eyes are still shut.
150 baby critters were dropped off at the Wildlife Center of Venice the day after Hurricane Irma.
Kevin says, “When the doors first opened we got slammed with squirrels the help kept up with it fortunately. Our volunteers were angels.”
Within a couple of days after the storm, the non-profit wildlife rescue had more than 300 animals ---mostly young ones…displaced by Hurricane Irma.
“This is an older one eyes are open…more squirrely. They need to be fed every 2 hours day and night,” says Kevin as he pulls a squirrel out of an another box.
Before the storm, many of the center’s other animals evacuated here to the center’s new facility across the street.
“We signed on the property the day before the hurricane…a nerve-racking experience,” says Kevin. The Wildlife Center of Venice put 25% down on the nearly 5-acre property and has three years to pay off the outstanding balance of approximately 280 thousand dollars.
The new facility has to be rezoned as an animal hospital. Once they are rezoned Kevin plans on using the front room as a welcome center and another room as a gift shop.
Larger birds stayed in a kennel at the new facility during the storm
Kevin says, “We got to test the new facility the hard way.”
Executive director and co-founder Kevin Barton says except for minor roof damage it fared well. That’s comforting to know he says as he pulls a baby possum tucked warmly underneath a towel in a box.
“This guy is by himself usually in a liter,” says Kevin about the possum.
The center must now care for more than 300 homeless animals until they are old enough to be returned to the wild.
The Wildlife Center of Venice needs plastic boxes, heating pads, glove warmers or chemical heat packs, sheets and towels and money to buy the animal’s special formula.
The center treats more than 4-thousand-500 injured animals each year.