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2018 was one of Izzie’s Pond’s best — and busiest — years since we started. During any given year, by combining our wildlife rehabilitation and domestic animal rescue numbers, we take in up to 800 animals per year. This year, that number included rescues from several hoarding cases, animal control seizures, and emergency rescues, which resulted in intakes of more than 300 domestic birds and fowl!

Whether you’re a new or long-time follower, we got so much accomplished this year, you might not have seen everything we did. We wanted to share some of the highlights:

Our Public Events

For the first time, Izzie’s Pond was able to open to the public! We held two Open Houses this year: one in June (read more about the first Open House here), and one in September. Both events were an amazing success!

Achieving our USDA license meant that we were also finally clear to bring our nonreleasable wild “ambassador” animals on the road. We purchased our first transport vehicle and participated in a number of events around the Upstate. In April, these events included Earth Day at Sealed Air, along with the Peter Rabbit Festival at the South Carolina Botanical Garden at Clemson University. Kira the gray fox, Dory the raccoon, Vera Fang the Red Tailed Boa, and Opal the pigeon were on hand to meet the public and have their stories (and ours) told.

We also kicked off our educational programming with several YMCA summer camp visits and a visit to Langston Charter Middle School. Students of various ages had the chance to learn about who we are, what we do, and why it’s important in our rapidly growing area. At Bob Jones University, baby goats Shelly and Darla helped us talk to students about what we do.

We also want to extend a big thank-you to the Clemson Women in Animal and Veterinary Sciences, who joined us a second year in a row to volunteer their time and effort around the property.

Our Building Projects

Part of opening to the public was ensuring that our rescue complied with US Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations for animal welfare and human safety.

For example, wild animals must be completely closed off from visitors who aren’t regular staff or volunteers. One of our challenges was how to invite visitors into our warehouse without giving them access to baby wildlife that couldn’t be moved outdoors. For this project, we erected 3 walls of fencing, shielded with fabric, that enclosed the baby area.

That was only a small part of the overall work we did this year, though! Special thanks to Nancy Worley and Suzanne Sparks, owners of local business Animal Enclosures, who outfitted our pond with a wide variety of building projects. These included:

      • A new rehab pen for our fawns to help them adapt to the outdoors while still being able to come back indoors when they need.
      • A new living area built specifically and suited for the needs of our non-flighted (and therefore nonreleasable) Barred Owl. This enclosure offers the nesting and perching space that resembles the owl’s wild habitat. We’ve applied for a US Fish & Wildlife exhibitor permit, which required us to complete over 200 hours of training, and hope to be able to introduce the owl to the public this year.
      • A new enclosure for both red and gray foxes as our pilot fox rehab program continues to grow. We also added viewing enclosures for our nonreleasable, USDA foxes, including Poppy, our beautiful marble fox.
      • Due to the large number of sick adult raccoons and foxes that came in, we’ve totally revamped and enlarged our quarantine area, making it an enclosed room.
      • Raccoon climbing cages. As they grow bigger, young raccoons need plenty of indoor space where they can stay warm and still polish their climbing skills in preparation to move into outside pens. Climbing cages are bigger than the small-animal cages where baby raccoons live, but they’re not as big as the outdoor kennels that are the final stage before release. Even more importantly, the enclosures are designed so that we can do much of the animal care from outside the cage. This means that we can limit human interaction so the animals are bonding to each other, not their caretaker. The result is a much easier transition from a rehabber’s care to the wild.
      • Release pens, including nest boxes, for raccoons and squirrels. Release pens are the final step in wildlife rehabilitation. They provide a stable source of food, water, and shelter for animals while they’re acclimating to a new environment. The “soft release” method ultimately enables animals to come and go as they please until they find other food, water, and shelter sources on their own. We designed and built our first prototype of a truly mobile release pen, that is built on a trailer, that can be driven out to a designated release property.

      • Two “small bird” aviaries for the dozens of finches and lorikeets we rescued this year:
        • We took in 84 finches from one senior action rescue from a lady that could no longer physically care for her beloved birds. We built a heated aviary specifically for them so they would not have to be separated, and they will live out their lives here at Izzie’s Pond.
        • The lorikeets came from a hoarding case and were transferred from another rescue. They were deemed non-adoptable because they were cage aggressive and would bite people. We built a walk in aviary for them so they would not be intimidated by humans invading their space. With the ability and space to move away when they want, they have completely changed their demeanor and now like to sit on the heads of volunteers and fix their hair!
      • Two new duck aviaries (with pools that can drain outside the pen!) were needed to temporarily house approximately 50 waterfowl, whom we rescued from two different public ponds. They were in danger of being euthanized by animal removal companies, but now they’re up for adoption!
      • A new, heated baby goat pen. It’s equipped with heat lamps for our orphaned baby goat. We also upfitted 3 existing pens to house 17 goats that were rescued from Hurricane Florence, in which all females were pregnant.
      • “Rooster condos”! This caging was built compact but functional, to create space for emergency intakes from hoarding cases and seizures. These cages are not intended for the lifetime of the animal, but to maximize the number we can rescue and give us time to find appropriate forever homes for these rescued chickens.
      • Modifications to existing structures to promote the animals’ comfort and safety. This included an awning on “Raccoon Row” to protect the outdoor juveniles from rain and bright sun, and a pool drain system to prevent habitats from becoming too muddy. Suzanne and Nancy also fenced in a new goat pasture and reseeded the old one so that the goats could move back and forth and give the grass in both pastures a chance to grow without being eaten!

      Our Fundraisers and Donations

      As we’ve grown, so has our need for healthy food for our animals! Over the summer we posted to our Facebook page, asking for donated produce from the local community. Shortly after, Donal Dickens, Upstate Warehouse Manager for Golden Harvest Food Bank in Anderson, got in touch. Not wanting to waste fruits and vegetables  that’s out of date or hasn’t been picked up by the organizations they supply to, Donal arranged to make a weekly donation. We now receive this produce every Friday!

      Tanya Stiegler Designs hosted the Pumpkin Project at Hampton Station in Greenville, additionally helping us out in November and December by accepting whole pumpkins from the public. Pumpkins were dropped off at four Station businesses: Birds Fly South, White Duck Taco, Due South Coffee, and Craft Axe Throwing. So many pumpkins were donated that we were even able to share with our “deer” friends at Paws Animal Wildlife Sanctuary, who had lost their pumpkin source this year.

      We want to extend a special thank you to all those of you who donated time, materials, resources, or money to our cause. We couldn’t have been able to accomplish all that we did without you — and we’re looking forward to 2019!