Helping Wildlife

Rim author’s first book nominated for national award

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Author and wildlife rehabilitator Mitzi Brabb communes with her family’s pet cockatiel.

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Mitzi Brabb and her family also has two pet bunnies, one of which Brabb is cuddling two cats, an African Solcatta tortoise, which will live to be more than 100 years old, but is only about 5 now, and a large dog named Jeeves, which protects the Brabb home. Brabb has just released her first children’s book, “Mom, I Found a Bunny,” which combines a story and factual information about the care of injured and orphaned wild rabbits.

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Teresa McQuerrey/Roundup

Mitzi Brabb

Mitzi Brabb is defying all kinds of publishing conventions. She self-published her first book and it is now a nominee for a national book award.

Brabb, who writes as Mitzi Boles, has just released her book, “Mom, I Found a Bunny.” In it, she tells the story of a young boy who finds an infant rabbit and brings it home. His wise mother has him give the wildlife infant to a rehabilitator, who then teaches him about the care needed and the wisdom of leaving the wild in the wild.

The book is a nominee for the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award for 2008 (the awards will be presented in 2009).

Brabb’s story is based on her own experiences. Years ago, a pet cat brought her a baby squirrel and not knowing how to care for it, she went to a wildlife rehabilitator for help. What she learned so enthralled her, she took classes in the care of injured and orphaned wildlife and is now a state licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

“The book is for children, their parents and educators,” she said.

Not only is it a children’s book, it also contains factual information about caring for wildlife in need.

Brabb has been working with wildlife for about 14 years. Since that first relationship with a squirrel, she has had hundreds of wild animals placed in her care. At different points in her career as a wildlife rehabilitator she has had as many as three dozen animals

— mostly rabbits — in her care. However, she has also provided help to elk and deer, raccoons, other squirrels and even hummingbirds.

She is licensed by the state to care for wildlife at her Wonders of the Wild facility, which will benefit from proceeds from the sale of the book. She is planning to get a federal license as well.

“Most birds can only be handled by people with federal licenses,” she said. Because of the migratory patterns, almost all birds are under the jurisdiction of federal authorities, she explained.

In addition to caring for wildlife, Brabb also educates other aspiring rehabilitators and said she is willing to teach anyone who wants to learn.

Her children’s book is not Brabb’s first writing effort.

She has a degree in journalism, has been an editor of “BirdTracks,” a quarterly publication for one of Phoenix’s most respected wildlife organizations; had short stories, essays and poetry published in anthologies; and has written articles for various publications, including the Payson Roundup.

She plans a whole series of books similar to “Mom, I Found a Bunny” with the goal of encouraging respect and empathy for nature by raising awareness about the environment and the animals that inhabit it.

She has completed the initial draft of one, “The Friendly Fawn” and is in various stages of development on “The Mission of the Feathered Friends,” “Look What the Cat Dragged in ... a Squirrel’s Tale” and “The Impossible Opossum Imposter.”

She said each story provides a unique scenario of an animal rescue and teaches children (and adults) how to humanely deal with injured or orphaned wildlife.

A friend is working with the threatened Patagonian Cavy, the second-largest rodent in the world, and is trying to talk her into adopting one and writing a book about it.

“I might just help them with the book and publish it,” she said. She formed her own publishing company, Wonders of the Wild Press for her book.

Brabb said she is also thinking about trying her hand at writing a historical mystery.

When her upcoming writing projects are realized depends on the time she has available in between raising her almost-3-year-old daughter, Haley Rae, making a home for her husband, Matt, who commutes between their Rim Country home and the Valley, caring for the family’s two bunnies, two cats, a cockatiel, an African Solcatta tortoise named Bertram and a very large, mixed breed dog named Jeeves.

“My husband and I are fans of P.G. Wodehouse,” Brabb said, explaining the unusual names of the tortoise and dog.

Also entering into the mix is the fact Brabb and her husband just learned they are expecting their second child.

In the meantime, her book “Mom, I Found a Bunny” is available through her Web site, wondersofthewild.org and she plans to offer it through Amazon as well.

A friend will have it at a wildlife symposium in Napa, Calif. next month.

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