Fetch – November 2018 – Wildlife Center

Tarzan’s story and his new happy ending

This story was planned to be in Fetch last month. The Woolsey fire prompted us to hold off and anxiously wait before writing a new ending and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Baby season was in full swing and every nook and cranny of your Rancho Coastal Humane Society’s new San Diego Wildlife Center (the Center) had patients in need of care.  The Center does not turn away any wildlife due to space. We got a call about an orphaned squirrel being hand-raised by his rescuer. When he tried to release the baby into the wild, it kept coming back. Realizing it had not been a wise plan to try and raise it himself, he brought it to SDWC for a second chance. It was going to be a challenge, but we were happy to find a spot for the squirrel and try our best.

We learned quickly that this squirrel was special. He learned to pop the top off his enclosure, run out of the exam room, and climb up to a staff member’s shoulder on his first day. It was cute, but it’s not what we want for a squirrel who needs to survive in the wild.

We created a secure enclosure and gave him plenty of things to do that were more appropriate for a wild squirrel. He soon fell in love with swinging around the furnishings. That’s how this guy soon became referred to as “Tarzan.”  We are careful not to name wildlife so we can stay true to our permits and not convey them as pets. But once in a while, we just have to use a fitting name to describe them.

After a few months he finally started acting like a wild squirrel. He became protective of his environment and started making a nest. We had done well, but he still wasn’t ready to live with other wild squirrels. We contacted several facilities before finding what he needed. He was going to a wildlife facility in Malibu for “squirrel lessons.”

He handled the trip with ease and adapted quickly to his new outdoor enclosure at the facility.  Location is everything…even for a squirrel. It didn’t take him long to meet the pretty female squirrel in the next enclosure. His nest building skills were going to come in handy. His progress was monitored daily as watched the others and learned …how to be a proper squirrel.

Life was good. He was about to be released along with his nest box and a friend to begin his new life, high in the Malibu trees. Then the Woolsey Fire broke out in his area of Malibu. In addition to the people and pets who live there, our thoughts turned to Tarzan.

We’re happy to report that Tarzan, the Malibu facility, and the other squirrels in his neighborhood are fine. They held back the releases to keep them safe. They are now on their way to the trees, thanks to their dedicated care providers and the firefighters.

Thank you for supporting your Rancho Coastal Humane Society’s San Diego Wildlife Center where Together we Save Lives.