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Wildlife Rescue Center rebounding after hectic year

More rescues came in during 2020 than any other year

BALLWIN, Mo. — There is no off season for employees and volunteers of Ballwin's Wildlife Rescue Center. 

Executive Director Kim Rutledge showed Show Me St. Louis around the facility on a warm mid-July day, "Right now we have a fair amount of Eastern grey squirrels. We have a lot of possums, and we have a lot of box turtles right now, too."

Even though the facility seemed quite busy, Rutledge says it will get busier by fall.

"We might have over a hundred animals that need to be fed four times a day," Rutledge says, "so it's quite an operation."

Like everywhere and everyone else, the Wildlife Rescue Center is coming off a tumultuous and chaotic year. Most of the staff didn't see one another for a year because they broke into five isolated teams to manage COVID-19 protocols and keep up animal care.

Believe it or not though, the pandemic wasn't the biggest hurdle of 2020, "We treated more animals last year than ever before," Rutledge explains.

Rescues are still coming in and staff are working typical shifts again, but things still aren't 100% back to normal. Mid-summer is usually when the Wildlife Rehab Center gears up for their fall open house and fundraiser. 

Due to COVID-19, the center is holding off on large in-person events. Instead, during the month of July they're holding a matching funds campaign. All donations will be matched up to $10,000.

Rutledge says money raised will go towards medication, food, housing and keeping the lights on, "we have lots of different species that we are taking care of so they have a lot of different requirements, with baby mammals they need special milk replacers, our reptiles need special lighting and then just in general in taking care of any kind of animal, it takes a lot of cleaning supplies."

If a hands on approach is more appealing, the Wildlife Rescue Center is also looking for volunteers, "We have also just recently started taking on new volunteers again since the beginning of 2020, so you can fill out an application, and we're looking for fall interns too."

Those new volunteers will be busy as the center is expecting a squirrel and possum baby boom, "they'll be doing hand feeding for those guys, as well."