A Tribute to Delphine

This past week our beloved ambassador, Delphine, was humanely euthanized due to her declining health. Our Wildlife Medical Clinic community is deeply saddened with the loss and we appreciate all of the kind words and support during this difficult time. Delphine was beloved by her caretakers, volunteers, community members, and social media followers. Delphine lived a wonderful life at WMC, where she enjoyed delicious food, comfy beds, lots of interactive enrichment, and endless love and attention from her caretakers over her three and a half years with us. Although Delphine’s life has come to an end, her legacy and impact on wildlife education will carry on.

Del was brought into WMC in 2017 after being found orphaned and subsequently hand-reared by a well-meaning member of the public. Due to her habituation to humans, she was deemed non-releasable. Luckily, Delphine’s friendly demeanor made her a perfect candidate to join the ambassador animals at WMC, representing our only mammal in the collection during her tenure. The name Delphine was inspired after the scientific name for opossum, Didelphis virginiana. Delphine, or “Del” served as an ambassador for her species, the only native North American marsupial. Although well intentioned, Del was an example of why orphaned wildlife should only be cared for by licensed wildlife rehabilitators, where they have the best chance of being released back into the wild. Continue reading

Winter Word Scramble

While we tend to stay home and avoid the cold, wildlife have developed their own ways to spend the winter. Many birds migrate, traveling to warmer areas with plentiful food and shelter. Some wildlife may find a safe place to enter a sleep like state that helps them conserve energy during a time when food is scarce. This process can be torpor, true hibernation, or brumation, with each process characterized by differing levels of activity and lowered metabolism. Mammals, reptiles, and even birds can change their metabolism and activity as a strategy against the cold. In other cases, animals must eat what’s available in the given season. For example, even though lush prairies aren’t available in the winter, deer can still munch on twigs and grasses. Now that you’re familiar with these three ways animals cope with the cold, unscramble the names of animals that utilize each strategy! Continue reading

I Spy Winter Wildlife Homes

Every winter, as trees lose their leaves, we get a unique view into how trees support the local ecosystem. If you look up at nearby trees this time of year, you may see non-migratory birds perching, squirrels chasing each other from branch to branch, or moss frozen in time. Have you ever wondered why there always seem to be big bunches of leaves and twigs stuck in trees? Those are actually animal nests! Despite seeming precariously perched, they’re strategically placed and carefully constructed to withstand harsh wind, rain, and even snow. At first glance, can be challenging to guess what creature its owner is. Complicating matters, animals will sometimes utilize nests made by completely different species! Birds, squirrels, and even raccoons and opossums will make nests in trees. Here’s a little information about the nests of two wildlife species common in Illinois. Continue reading