Wildlife Ambassadors Enlighten And Educate

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After being hit by a car in November 2000, Cheyenne -- a Golden eagle -- was left with only one good eye and an injured wing. She would never hunt again. Fortunately, she found a home at the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center.

The center is a rehabilitation facility operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

"We were the first rehabilitation center ever run by Game and Fish in the United States," volunteer Muriel Kremb said.

With only one paid staff member, the Phoenix center operates with 40 active volunteers who care for sick, injured or abandoned wildlife. The goal is to release animals back into the wild whenever possible. But some animals, like Cheyenne, can no longer survive in the wild and are enlisted as ambassadors to help educate children and adults throughout Arizona.

Kremb said the animals are often misunderstood. "One myth about eagles is that they can carry off your babies. This eagle, (Cheyenne) has an eight-foot wingspan, but she only weighs ten pounds. She's not going to carry off your child and have it for dinner."

Cheyenne and other animals from the center were brought to the annual wildlife fair at Green Valley Park Saturday. Visitors at the event enjoyed a close-up look at a wide range of animals from Gila monsters to Great Horned owls.

"The one thing I think we really get across is that these are wild animals -- not pets," center volunteer Gary McGill said.

"They may seem tame, but man does damage when they make pets out of them.

"Hootie for example (a Great Horned owl) was taken as a nestling and raised in a private home. He was fed an improper diet and it caused malnourishment and subsequent malformation to his beak. Because of that, he'll never be able to be free," McGill said.

For more information about the Wildlife Center at Adobe Mountain, or to make a donation, call 623-582-9806, or log on to www.wildlifeaux.org.

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