By Janet Hrezo and Matt Graham, Brevard Center
Have you ever fed a baby squirrel by hand or walked a tortoise? For Matt Graham, a first year student at the Brevard Center, it’s all in a day’s work as an intern at the Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary in Melbourne.
The Wildlife Hospital is dedicated to aiding native Florida wildlife and migratory birds and then returning them to the wild. Pelicans, owls, raccoons, tortoises and river otters are only a few of the animals treated there. When Matt started his internship this September, it was baby squirrel season and caring for them immediately became Matt’s favorite job.
Working with animals requires patience and, when working with squirrels, quick hands. Matt has both as well as a real regard for these tiny creatures. Baby squirrels are fed formula through plastic syringes and Matt quickly learned how to determine the right amount and correct temperature of formula to use. Watching Matt feeding the squirrels, it quickly becomes obvious that this is a labor of love. He speaks softly to each one and holds them gently as they eat.
While Matt’s favorite activity is working with the animals, he also enjoys interacting with the staff and his co-workers. “They’re fun to work with,” he says and they provide a calm and friendly atmosphere where Matt can practice his social skills with people who share his love for animals.
Matt’s internship is very important to him in and it’s not just the fun of working with animals and the company of friends that make it so. He feels that what he does is “making a difference by helping animals out” and the Wildlife Hospital seems a perfect match for him.
The Florida Wildlife Hospital and Sanctuary is a non-profit organization that treats over 3,500 wild animals, on average, each year. Although they are licensed by state and federal agencies, they receive no government funding. FWS provides an essential service to Florida’s injured wildlife. If you’d like to learn more, their web address is www.floridawildlifehospital.org