At this Hawaii Island hospital, many of the patients are endangered

The Hawaii Wildlife Center cares for sick and injured native species.
The Hawaii Wildlife Center cares for sick and injured native species.(Hawaii Wildlife Center)
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 4:02 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 15, 2022 at 4:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - At its headquarters in North Kohala, the Hawaii Wildlife Center cares for critical species ― native birds and bats that come to the Big Island animal hospital either sick or injured.

“You never know from day to day what you’re going to get in as a patient,” said Linda Elliott, HWC’s founder and president, adding there are 40 animal patients at the hospital currently.

The non-profit treats its patients for problems ranging from bodily injuries to poisonings. It could be a nene goose or a Hawaiian hoary bat that needs help.

HWC’s team of veterinarians nurse them back to health.

“We know that when they’re in care it’s not normal for them,” Elliott said. “They’re not like our domestic animals that like to be held or petted or talked to.”

The need to rehabilitate injured animals has grown by leaps and bounds. The center also takes in patients from Midway and Kure atolls.

Elliott said since the center opened, HWC has cared for close to 3,000 birds and bats.

“We treat them and get them back into the wild,” she said.

This year marks the wildlife center’s 10 anniversary. Its release rate is more than 80%.

“Our happiest moment is when we release them back into the wild and they fly away without looking back. Then we know we’ve done what we needed to do to get them back out,” Elliott said.

HWC depends on grants and contributions from businesses and individuals to continue the important work.

Its small staff receives help from volunteers and veterinarians statewide who assist with medical treatment and transportation.

“We always look for training new people within our own community, within the state, so that we have the expertise here to protect our native bio-diversity,” Elliott said.

The Hawaii Wildlife Center cares for a lot more native birds and bats than Elliott envisioned it would when the hospital opened a decade ago. And that need is never-ending.

If you find a downed bird or bat that needs medical needs care, call the Hawaii Wildlife Center at (808) 884-5000.

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