I volunteered at Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition’s Wildlife Center for a brief spell when I was in high school. It was located at an older building back then and I figured the staff and animals would have been mostly, if not entirely, replaced by now (I’m getting so old… but that’s a good thing 🙂 ).
MaiTai and I joined one of his unschooling groups for a planned group tour/presentation of TWRC in its current location and it was a brand new experience as I predicted. Still, like most things, it wasn’t quite what we expected, but we did see and hear some neat things and got the opportunity to help a charitable organization, too.
Description: Via web site – “[TWRC] is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization operated by an efficient, dedicated volunteer and part-time staff consisting of permitted rehabilitators, students, seniors, professionals, and animal lovers. TWRC, as we are known, was Houston’s first urban wildlife emergency and rehabilitative care facility. Since our founding in 1979, we have had over 135,000 injured, orphaned, or ill wild animals pass through the hands of our caring volunteers… [Our mission is to] promote environmental conservation through public education and rehabilitation of Texas wildlife.”
Location: 10801 Hammerly Blvd. #200, Houston, TX 77043
Hours: Open 10 am – 2 pm every day. Check the calendar for special events. Tour presentations can be set up between 12 p.m. – 3 p.m. on Mon. – Fri.
Fee: $5 per person suggested donation, plus an item from the provided list of commonly used products: Dawn Liquid Detergent, one ream of copier paper, one box of storage bags (quart or gallon), toilet tissue, paper towels, liquid hand soap, or distilled water.
Contact Them: (713) 468-8972
Other: Tour program is one hour long. When making a reservation, understand the minimum numbers of participants is 5 and maximum is 30. Click here to schedule your group for a presentation.
Photos & Feelings
First the kids were gathered to sit on the floor for the presentation.
MaiTai doesn’t really ‘get’ the concept of sitting in an orderly fashion on the floor for these sorts of things. Or he fully understands but his body rejects it. Either way, he ended up leaning on me, arms draped around my neck and shoulders, while I sat on the floor at the back of the crowd and out of everyone’s way. Ahh, comfort zone.
The guide pictured in green was wonderful and relatable with the kids. I found myself thinking how I wished I could relate to kids (who aren’t mine) with such ease and seeming lack of awkwardness.
She introduced us to the center’s animals, explained how they arrived there, listened to the kids’ personal stories of encountering wildlife, and answered their questions about which situations warrant a call to TWRC to rescue an animal versus which events the organization cannot interfere with.
It was obvious how the staff truly cares about the animals’ well-being and were particularly careful not to exploit them in any harmful way even if they were slated to make an appearance for our group.
I expected MaiTai would be especially interested when the guide in pink brought out various animals for the tour guests to pet, but it seemed like the sudden commotion over this exciting show-and-tell moment kinda turned him off.
So MaiTai refused to touch any of the shelled, scaled, feathered and furry creatures. And took the opportunity to redirect some attention to his attire.
“Mom, can you put the other shirt on me?”
“Which other shirt?”
“In your bag…”
Don’t let the serious mug fool you. He was “comfy and cozy now,” he said.
The end of the hour drew near so quickly that I worried we wouldn’t get a chance to tour the facility as I assumed was on the agenda. It turned out the demonstration in the main room was the entirety of the public tour and I’ll admit I was kinda disappointed.
On the other hand, MaiTai was perfectly happy as soon as the group started clearing out so he could investigate the animal cages much closer and without a bunch of other people his height clogging up the view. Not exactly the crowd surfing type.
He loved watching this squirrel nibble on his surroundings and talked to me about the differences he noticed in the way the squirrel eats compared to us. He asked why there was trash in the cage (referring to the shredded paper, which he associates with garbage from helping me clean our home office 😛 ). I explained how recycling works (in ultra-basic terms) and told him that some trash can be reused for a good purpose, like making beds for injured woodland critters.
Before heading out, Maitai handed one of the desk volunteers his monetary donation. The night prior, he’d helped The Designated Dad “turn it into a butterfly” specifically for this wildlife-focused afternoon.