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North Carolina Zoo Adds Rehabilitation Center

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ASHEBORO — At the North Carolina Zoo, you can see some of the most exotic animals in the world, like polar bears, big cats, and gorillas.

Now, they also have many of the animals you would find in your back yard, but not on display. They are in rehab.

Joan McMurray has played the role of mother to countless baby squirrels. She gets a lot of her orphaned or injured animals from the North Carolina Zoo. They come from everywhere.

Now, the zoo and animal lovers like Joan have joined forces. They built a rehabilitation center right next to the zoo's Veterinary Hospital. The center is a place where volunteers can come and care for the animals who cannot care for themselves.

"We've been very fortunate in that we've had over 100 volunteers express interest in working at the facility," Chief Veterinarian of the North Carolina Zoological Park Mike Loomis said.

"And somebody's dog thought this fellow was a chew toy," McMurray said, holding up a turtle.

For 13 years, Joan's home was a rehab center, but even she admits, that is not the best way to help these patients.

"The people who want to rehab animals are animals lovers who would be involved or we would be involved, which means we have pets as well as taking care of the wildlife. And being exposed to cats and dogs is not the best experience for these animals if they're going to survive when they're released," McMurray said.

Zoo veterinarians say they cannot hope to save every possum, or heal every broken wing in the state. They do hope to use the Valerie Schindler Center as an educational facility as a way of greatly reducing deaths and injuries that occur when wildlife clashes with civilization.

"We hope to talk about how people can change their behavior and how people can make the environment they live in more friendly to wildlife," Loomis said.

McMurray will continue to be wildlife's best friend when it comes to organizing volunteer help. She does not expect a raise in pay.

"I'm definitely a volunteer when it comes to this job You couldn't pay me enough to do it as a paid employee. They don't have that much money," McMurray said.


Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Julian King, Web Editor

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