NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A one-winged American bald eagle, a rescued fox, and an owl that’s nearly as blind as a bat live among friends at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, a 300-acre non-profit nature preserve on Long Island.
Many of the animals in the refuge have permanent injuries that prevent them from being released back into the wild: The eagle had its right wing amputated after being shot by a poacher.
Cara Fernandes, environmental educator and program coordinator at the refuge, gave CBS2’s Elle McLogan a tour of the grounds and introduced the inhabitants, from pumpkinseed sunfish to egrets.
“Some of them were injured by cars. Others were kept as pets illegally, and that’s why they are here, because they are so habituated to people they wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild,” Fernandes said. “Because they are wild animals and are here for the rest of their lives, we try to provide them with the best enclosures, the best food for them, vitamins and all of that, just so that they’re living their best life here.”
Hooter the great horned owl is one of those animals living his best life. Hooter – who’s almost 25 years old – is almost blind and relies on hearing to make sense of the environment. His flexible neck helps negotiate his surroundings.
Great horned owls like Hooter “can turn their heads 270 degrees out of 360, so they have more vertebrae in their neck than humans do. Humans can only turn their necks 180 degrees,” Fernandes said.
Living indoors are rodents, reptiles, and insects, including Madagascar hissing cockroaches. “They’re decomposers,” Fernandes said. “We like to teach about them breaking down the forest litter.”
The Indian Walking Sticks are masters of camouflage.
“There might only be females, and they asexually reproduce,” Fernandes said.
Fernandes is grateful for the opportunity to teach visitors about the local species and habitats.
“I think the most rewarding is when children really realize that this Earth is our place to take care of and all of these animals. We can make a difference.”
Quogue Wildlife Refuge
3 Old Country Road
Quogue, NY 11959
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