Sometimes they choose you.
Our family continues to grow. We treat our educational ambassadors just like family… maybe better.
Of course our goal is to try to release all animals that come in to us. We release 99% of all viable animals back into the wild where they belong. Only twice did an animal choose to stay with us: once with a dear opossum named Big Boy, and recently with a skunk named Cash. (We do not name the animals that get returned to the wild.)
Cash came to us as a tiny, lone neonatal who had been attacked by a dog. Cash was very scared after his trauma and was quite “stand-offish” with us. He often “poofed” (a baby skunk odor that is emitted on purpose or by accident) and protested about his misfortunate of landing in a rehab center. Of course we had to handle him to formula feed him. Even being with 3 and then 5 other skunks, he just always stood out and never seemed as “skunky” as the rest. He was a bit larger then the rest and was fed from a separate bowl (so the others would get their fair share) so maybe that had something to do with slight distance from the others. In any case, we did not handle him much more than the others.
When it came time to move all the skunks outside to get accumulated to the weather, forage around for natural foods, and for them to go through “Be Wild 101”, I wondered how Cash would do and if he should go. We’d always make room for an animal if he/she had to stay or find appropriate placement. He was placed outside with the rest of them. He stuck out like a sore thumb… being intimidated by the ones half his size, being pushed away from food bowls and not standing his ground to eat, not sleeping with the group, etc. I pulled him back in. Either way, I experienced a Mother’s guilt: guilty for making him struggle outside or possible depriving him of his right to be free in the wild. After pulling him in for one night, I placed him back outside for more observation time and time for his instincts to kick in.
Welp, we have a new educational ambassador. Our decision was affirmed over and over. He clearly is more comfortable inside and around people. All he wants to do is be next to us or on our laps. In a very anthropomorphic statement, I bet he is relieved he gets some love instead of us avoiding him outside. We do love him. How could one not love such a gentle soul? His chances of surviving throughout the first winter outside would be slim, especially by exerting 20% more energy by denning by himself. That’s okay, little buddy, we won’t make you go. We just need a bigger center so you can have a better home. We’re working on it…
Welcome home, Cash.