Current Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2013 17:25:45 -0500
The first animal Kindra Mammone rehabilitated was a baby skunk. She was 5 years old when her father dropped the animal on her bed and taught her how to care for it.
Thirty-nine years later, Mammone is operating her own rescue organization, Creative Learning About Wildlife Species, or CLAWS.
She founded the nonprofit in Chapel Hill in 2004 to help local wild and exotic animals.
“There are a lot of animals out there that need rescue,” Mammone said. “But there are a lot of species that people won’t help.”
Mammone soon realized the need for her organization, which aims to rescue and rehabilitate animals while educating people to live in harmony with wild animals.
Like many animal rehabbers, she works out of her own home, she said.
“People came to my door with hogs in their hands,” she said.
Last week, CLAWS employees released a great horned owl they had been caring for since November, Mammone said. The owl, whom she named Archimedes, was found in a waste treatment plant in Durham and had abrasions on her eyelid and wing.
Mammone said CLAWS often invites people to watch when animals are released.
Funding is one of her organization’s biggest challenges, and Mammone relies on donations but sometimes uses her own money.
At CLAWS, veterinarian fees run up to $10,000 a year, and a month’s worth of food is about $2,000 for the 25 mammals and 22 birds currently in their care.
Joy Braunstein, president of Carolina Raptor Center by Charlotte, said the nonprofit helps about 800 birds of prey a year.
The problem isn’t a lack of rehab centers for animals, but a lack of donations, she said.
“If we had exponentially larger funding, then we would have exponentially larger resources.” Braunstein said.
She said food costs ran up to $4,000 a month at that center.
“People that do this do it because their heart is in it,” said Pamela Bayne, president of the Triangle Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic.
Bayne, who volunteers at the clinic, said it rehabilitates about 100 birds in the summer. They eat every 30 minutes for 14 hours, which raises food costs to several thousand dollars a month.
Mammone said she often has to borrow materials such as cages to keep costs low.
She said she wants to move into a bigger location with looser animal license restrictions while staying close to Chapel Hill.
“In Orange County we’re not allowed to have bobcats, but I get calls about them all the time,” she said. “We would like to move to a place where we can have bobcats.”
But despite staying small, word of Mammone’s work has spread.
After finding Bettong kangaroos, she said she received a call from Australia to keep breeding the almost extinct species.
She now owns 12 of the 45 Bettongs in the country, she said.
“They asked me, ‘How do you manage to breed them?’” Mammone said. “I said, ‘I don’t know, I walk into their cage, and they breed on my shoe.’”
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