The Furry Residents Of Reflection Riding Arboretum And Nature Center

Friday, April 21, 2017
Todd the fox
Todd the fox

Without Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, many of its animals like Todd the one-year-old fox would be either fur coats or road kill. 

While Todd the red fox may seem spritely and joyful now, he, like the other animals at Reflection Riding, was rescued from the brink of death. 

When Reflection Riding heard of a litter fox pups born to become fur coats, the organization’s funds only covered saving one. 

That lucky fox turned out to be Todd, who was then raised under Reflection Riding’s care. Their director of Wildlife Trish Gailmard nursed him with a baby bottle and let him sleep in the bed with her every night during his first few months as a free fox. As if he knows what Ms. Gailmard did for him, he protects her like a member of his own family. 

Todd now lives in the Wildlife Wanderland and participates in daily education programs to teach children about valuing wildlife. His warm brown eyes make approaching him easy for children who may otherwise be afraid of his needle-sharp teeth. Todd is friendly; in fact, he’s too acclimated to humans to be released into the wild and even allows people to pet him. 

Once an animal is taken in by Reflection Riding, they are here to stay because Reflection Riding specializes in providing care to animals deemed non-releasable by rehabilitators. 

Almost every animal at Reflection Riding has been nursed back to health from various injuries, most caused by humans. All of the animals are primary examples of what can happen when humans disrespect the natural world around them. 

Big Momma is the name of an owl who was hit by a car, resulting in her defining characteristic of a single, golden eye that survived the vehicle strike. Big Momma’s message to visitors is that throwing trash out the windows of cars attracts vermin, which then attract birds, which are easier for cars to hit as they swoop down to hunt. 

Evi the female bobcat was born into captivity like Todd. However, her owner tried to raise her like a house cat, but was unpleasantly surprised when Evi repeatedly tore up the furniture. Her wildness is what sent her to Reflection Riding, but she comically resembles a house cat in many of her mannerisms; she loves human attention and knows how to be cute enough to get it. 

Violet the opossum acts more like a house cat than Evi does; guests can watch her play and eat, and even pet her during educational programs. 

Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center’s Wildlife Wanderland is an interactive zoo whose mission is to foster long-lasting connections between humans and wildlife so that hopefully, less animals like Todd and Big Momma end up at their doors.

Sylvia Shipman

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