DOW — Chuckles, the female laughing red fox, has an online video with more than 3.7 million hits, enough to make a rock star envious.
Einstein the vulture, touted as the "world's smartest bird," has a children's book written about her, improbably titled "The Bird With No Name," written by a teacher at Blessed Sacrament School in Belleville. Yes, Einstein is a lady buzzard.
Now the latest of the potential critter media stars at the Treehouse Wildlife Center run by Adele Moore and a staff of interns and volunteers is The Freeburg Bobcat, a young female bobcat found last week on the side of the road that survived being knocked out for two days. Near Freeburg, of course.
"We'll release her soon as she shows she is alert and able," said Moore. She has spent 34 years learning how to care for an amazing array of injured wild creatures, from a huge trumpeter swan to all sorts of owls, large and small, coyotes, eagles, hawks of several species, a pelican, squirrels and, until recently, a mini-herd of fawns. The young deer were raised until they were large enough to be released.
Most creatures are cared for and released back to the wild unless their injuries prevent them from being able to care for themselves, or if they have been "imprinted by humans," that is raised by people and incapable of being returned to the wild. Some are given to zoos.
The Freeburg Bobcat was brought to the center, located east of Elsah in Jersey County, a few miles from the River Road south of Grafton.
Veterinarian Dr. Paul Myer of Glen Carbon, who volunteers care for many of the center injured creatures, examined the bobcat and determined that no serious injuries seem to be present. They would have to wait until the animal woke up.
It had happened before. Belle, a female bobcat rescued last year near Town Hall Road in Belleville, awoke after being unconscious for four days, Moore said. And to top that, Belle gave birth before she was released back into the wild, a fact BND.com users saw on a video. Mom emerged first from a release cage and then, about 20 seconds later, out scooted her little son Bobbie.
And Belle has her share of media attention in still another children's book, entitled, "The BIG Surprise," written by teacher Connie Yordy, who also wrote about Einstein the vulture. It shows photos of Belle lying unconscious where she was found by residents Annie and Mike Neiner, who knew to take the creature to the center in Jersey County. Yordy's books are available for purchase with the proceeds going to the center's operation.
The center located in a rambling, one-story former home, is more than, "Just an organization, it's an operation" around the clock, said Moore. Raccoons, rabbits and adult deer are turned down, only because of their sheer numbers. But opossums are in.
If you know of an animal that needs care, call the center at 618-466-2990. On the web, you can find more info at treehousewildlifecenter.com.
On Friday, Moore showed a newly constructed raptor or bird of prey flight rehabilitation building made possible through a recent large donation. It allows birds to strengthen their wings before release. They can fly in a 60 by 96 foot long building capable of allowing them to cruise in a loop more than 250 feet around.
In a single year, Moore said, her staff releases between 200 and 300 birds of prey to the wild.
But those that cannot be released, like Einstein, Chuckles and dozens of others birds and mammals, have a permanent home at the center. Some of these are "travelers," or animals that have been trained and travel to schools and various events.
Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2625.