A Face-to-Face Reminder of Compassion for Life

Yesterday we took a special trip to the World Bird Sanctuary nonprofit on the outskirts of St. Louis. Our friend is the veterinarian there, and she offered to take us on a behind-the-scenes tour–as bird lovers, we couldn’t pass up such a great offer!

We lucked into Sunday being an absolutely beautiful autumn day, especially since the first part of the tour was an outdoor stroll past the various birds that are either in rehabilitation or have an injury preventing them from surviving in the wild. We were able get close (as in a few feet away) to beautiful birds like bald eagles and peregrine falcons.

One of my favorites was the emu, which looked and acted exactly like I imagine a velociraptor. Who needs Jurassic Park when we have birds?

We then went inside the hospital where we found the majority of the work done at the sanctuary: People caring for injured birds. Many of them are brought into the facility from the general St. Louis area (raptors only), and some of them are from farther away or are from among the birds living in the sanctuary.

A rare, endangered bird–Sophia the bearded vulture–wasn’t doing well, so our vet friend took a look at her. I was touched by how much care and love the entire staff had for this bird.

The issue seems to be with her balance, hips, or spine–her claws were dragging. They let her walk around for a while in the hopes she could gain some confidence. She was still wanting to eat and play, but they’re very concerned. I hope they can figure out what’s wrong with her.

I didn’t take photos of what happened next, but it continued to speak to the compassion for animals held by the staff at the sanctuary. Someone from another animal rescue center–one without an on-site X-ray machine–dropped by with two injured, sedated opossum. The person (a volunteer or doctor) held each of them like a baby as they discussed the diagnosis. I loved seeing them treat these animals (which many might dismiss as vermin) with such tenderness and care.

Though, it was also interesting to see that in the same operating/X-ray room, someone was preparing meals for the raptors. So on one side of the room we were caring for an opossum while on the other someone was chopping up mice and fish.

We also took a short trip to a secondary site at the sanctuary where the educational birds are kept. As we approached the building, we had to pause for a bit, as the staff were taking some of the birds out for a flight. We were soon able to enter one of the buildings to see a vulture unlike any vulture I’ve ever seen (this is an Egyptian vulture).

We also saw a beautiful, long-legged bird talk to the vet and rub affectionately against her. He clearly had a crush (which she said is normal for imprinted birds during mating season). We also entered the habitat of a very old, very sweet owl. I think she was trying to take a nap when we dropped by.

I know it’s tough to see birds in cages, but I’m glad I was able to see the level of care they were receiving. These are stunning, intelligent creatures: For those who can survive in the wild, they will have that opportunity.

Have you ever visited a wild animal sanctuary? I highly recommend this one.

2 thoughts on “A Face-to-Face Reminder of Compassion for Life”

  1. Such an interesting read and great pictures Jamey. I have not visited an animal sanctuary , it would be something I would do with Donna and I know she would get upset at injured birds/creatures. If Donna sees cows in a field, she goes over to talk to them!. I love seeing people be kind to animals , it says a lot about a person 🙂


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