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CROW introduces new exhibit, ‘Be a Wildlife Veterinarian’

October 26, 2017
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Early last week the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife introduced a new exhibit for youth that sheds some light on what it takes to diagnose a patient and care for them.

CROW Development & Education Coordinator Rachel Rainbolt said one of the final stages for the youth renovation in the Education Center was the Be a Wildlife Veterinarian exhibit, which is designed for older aged students. The exhibit teaches them about why animals come into CROW, where they are coming from and how does the medical staff and students at CROW's hospital diagnose, or figure out what is wrong with the patient.

"Sometimes the injury or illness is a little more obvious, and sometimes you need to do a little more digging to find out exactly what we need to do to fix them," Rainbolt said.

Article Photos

CROW introduced “Be a Wildlife Veterinarian” exhibit early last week for the youth.


When a child visits the exhibit area with their parents, the first thing they will do is read the wall to learn about the steps they should take.

"As with any doctor, the first thing they should do is put on their safety gear, which includes their lab coat, gloves and safety glasses," she said. "Then they are going to take a clipboard with a patient chart and choose an animal and bring both to the examination table."

Rainbolt said with the animals it's kind of like Christmas because when opening a container they rarely know what species of patient is waiting on the other side.

"The students would open up a plastic pet carrier with an accompanying animal and go through the initial examination period," she said. "As with a wellness exam of any domestic animal, or even human, we are going to do things like checking their ears, or eyes, weight, their heartbeat."

To help the youth perform the examination, CROW has provided some of the appropriate medical tools, such as a reflex hammer, otoscope and a stethoscope.

"If the children are not as familiar with what these medical utensils are for, we actually have the instructions for all of that on the examination table," Rainbolt said.

After the examination has been performed and the record has been completed, they return the animal to the carrier, dispose of their gloves and hang up their lab coat and glasses.

Rainbolt said once the steps are completed, and they are done visiting the remainder of the Education Center, the youth can turn in their patient medical record for an honorary DVM Veterinarian certificate.

"They actually get to become a junior wildlife veterinarian," she said.

In addition to the examination component of the exhibit, Rainbolt said they also have microscopes with different slides, scales and an x-ray area for digital radiographs.

The area also includes a student reference desk, providing the youth with the opportunity to further learn about the wildlife. Rainbolt said the children can learn about what types of senses the patients the types of wildlife CROW treats, they can learn about their senses, as well as the difference between a carnivore, omnivore, or an animal that eats both fruit and meat.

A game component, name the skull game, is also incorporated into the exhibit. The youth have the opportunity to go throw a binder with life scale replicas of different skulls of wildlife that can be found in Southwest Florida.

"One of the enlightening things about this exhibit, other than the children actually getting to learn how to become a wildlife veterinarian and what goes into that diagnosis process, is really realizing on our board, on our intake board when animals are first checked in, how many of these reasons are actually a negative human interaction. Which is not to say people are purposely going out and hurting wildlife, but when they come in from begin hit by a car, or when they come in from being caught in a fishing line . . . these are all results of negative human interactions. We just want to make these children aware from a young age that every day decisions they make can have a positive impact on the wildlife in Southwest Florida," Rainbolt said.

The wish for the Education Center is to continue to welcome families of all ages to learn about the important work CROW does at the wildlife hospital, as well as through the public programs in the Visitor Education Center.

The exhibit was funded through a grant with the West Coast Inland Navigation District. They also provided funds for the skull replica exhibit, which is directly next to the Be a Wildlife Veterinarian exhibit.

"to work in conjunction with Name the Skull, we have some different skull replicas for the kids to look at," Rainbolt said.

CROW is located at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road.



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