Wildlife Learning Center of Sylmar, a small accredited zoo and rescue/rehabilitation center is looking back today on the year’s major accomplishments.
Even though it is a small facility it participates in Species Survival Plans aimed at preventing extinctions. Survival plans are supervised by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The plans bring together zoos and assorted agencies to work to maintain protected breeding programs for zoo populations of endangered animals. To that end Co-founders David Riherd and Paul Hahn were very glad to record the first birth of a baby two-toed sloth at WLC.
Two-toed sloths (Choloepus) are slow-moving tree dwellers. They have four chambered stomachs because they live almost exclusively on pant matter. They are native to the rainforest of South America and spend almost all of their time in the tree canopy.
But nothing is easy and according to the WLC newsletter, the mother was unable to produce milk and the baby was quite ill. WLC veterinarian Dr. Leah Greer and the care staff provided round-the-clock care until the baby pulled through.
Unfortunately, WLC has too much contact will illegal and irresponsible “pet” owners. In 2021 they rescued two marmosets, Perdido and CoCo. The animals escaped from illegal pet owners. This year they were joined by Marcelo, who was confiscated in a Los Angeles drug raid. The severely abused primate had broken bones, was malnourished and had been fed poorly. Marmosets are highly social animals and Marcelo was able to bond with Perdido and CoCo and now lives in an appropriate environment. Marmosets (Callitrichidae) are New World monkeys which fall into four sub categories. Superficially similar to squirrels they eat insects, fruit and small mammals. They dwell in trees in close-knot families.
WLC is also sheltering a hedgehog (Erinaceinae) that was found wandering in Griffith Park. Hedgehogs are not native to North America. The 17 species inhabit Europe, Asia and Africa. The small creature was likely released by its owner who may have thought it would survive on its own. The little animals was malnourished, underweight and very dehydrated but Dr. Greer and the staff were able to save it,
A responsible owner also gave the WLC a chinchilla she could no longer care for. Chinbchillas (Chinchilla chincella or C. lanigera) are South American Rodents a little bigger than squirrels. They survuve only in Chile at altitudes up to 14,000 feet.
As the newsletter says (Bold in original):
“We are extremely grateful to DocWalks4Animals for purchasing WLC a brand new portable ultrasound machine. This new ultrasound will be an important diagnostic tool for Dr. Greer to diagnose and treat the animals onsite, without the need to transport animals to an offsite clinic. Also with gifts from DocWalks4Animals and Lisa and John Acker, our two bald eagles now greatly benefit from a beautiful new aviary with a stream and pond for these water loving birds to splash around in. And our macaws have a new nighttime aviary with heat lamps and room to climb and perch comfortably when they sleep.”
WLC is slowly returning to normal following what appears to be the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic. But running any kind of rescue facility is extremely expensive. Riherd says WLC is always seeking financial aid. Readers interested in helping WLC can do so on the website.