“Critter Cams” – Investing in Wildlife Protection and Conservation
One of my biggest “ah ha” moments came several years ago when I was on-line viewing the “critter cams” at the Wildlife Center of Virginia (https://www.wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/critter-cam-landing). The Center has three live cams and also periodically offers a live cam into their animal hospital. To say I was totally awestruck when I first starting viewing the critter cams is incredibly understated. The live cams give any viewer a chance to see wildlife up close, learn about species, and understand what they need to survive. For wildlife rehabilitators, live animal cams enable the public to understand the challenges, demands, and skills and successes of wildlife rehabilitators.
Certainly, there’s a lot of superb animal cams or video production that enables the public to see up close the everyday work of rehabbers. Audubon provides a list of the top ten wildlife cams in the nation (http://www.audubon.org/news/top-10-wildlife-web-cams). Unfortunately, none focus on wildlife rehabilitators. I’d love to hear about wildlife rehab centers that have live animal cams in place and the benefits they experience from them.
Live animal cams don’t come free and require investment of people and money to install and maintain. The “people and money” aspects of running a successful non-profit wildlife rehab center is something to plan and set priorities for. Sponsors and donations can be found. The Wildlife Center of Virginia has a program that enables the public to sponsor their critter cams (https://www.wildlifecenter.org/critter-corner/critter-cams/sponsors), which helps support operational costs. The Center lists on their web site the names, when provided, of past and future sponsors. In a lot of cases these are private individuals who use their Critter Cam sponsorship as a birthday present or anniversary recognition, including remembering the passing of a loved one.
Another larger scale example of sponsorship is at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Ford Motor Company sponsors the live Giant Panda Cam (https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/panda-cam). Macy’s sponsors the live Lion cam (https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/lion-cam). These are just two, and there are other corporate sponsors.
Last, not least…I love the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “All About Birds” site which provides links to multiple live bird cams, including a live Albatross cam in Hawaii (http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/41/Laysan_Albatross/) and a live Red Tailed Hawk cam in Ithaca, NY (http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/16/Red-tailed_Hawks/). Some of these cams are business-sponsored.
People love watching animals. Wildlife rehabilitators provide a unique window into the world where people care about the animals that share our planet. That’s something to see. The image below is a female bald eagle who is blind due to West Nile virus and permanently cared for at Back to the Wild in Castalia Ohio.