• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Library welcomes wild animals for children’s programs

A three-legged skunk named Benny and four newborn baby raccoons came to the Woodford County Library and Midway Branch Library on April 7 with Brigette Brouillard, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. During her program at Woodford County Library, Brouillard told a roomful of children and parents that Second Chances Wildlife Center helps wild animals – bats, opossums, foxes and many other critters – return to their natural Kentucky habitat. “We don’t want to keep them,” said Brouillard. “The animals that go out to libraries and school groups (for our programs) – these are animals that could not survive on their own.” Bennie will never return to the wild, but regular feeding times will help ensure all four of the three-week-old raccoons are able to survive in the wild, but only after they got some oohs and ahs during the special library programs last Friday afternoon. “Children love animals, but usually they don’t get to see the wild animals close up,” said youth services librarian Becky Munoz. “…Personally, I had never seen baby raccoons before. So it was really special getting to see those (wild animals).” According to Brouillard, many people falsely believe a wild baby animal such as a fawn needs rescuing when left alone in the woods. “Mom does not stay with her baby. Mom is only with her babies five to 10 minutes a day. That’s not very long,” she explained. The founder of Second Chances Wildlife Center describes the nonprofit’s mission as two-fold. And she said, “Education is a big component of what we do.” “People have been taught misconceptions about wildlife from the get-go,” said Brouillard during a telephone interview prior to coming here. Besides telling children “the truths about wildlife,” Second Chances Wildlife Center’s education programs form a connection between kids and wildlife so they can “make good choices for our environment,” she said. And she wants to get children “excited to love wildlife.” In addition to bringing education programs to libraries and schools, Second Chances Wildlife Center will soon begin offering onsite programs at its nearly finished environmental education classroom on 23 acres, located south of Louisville in Mount Washington. “When kids or adults get to see these animals in person, it really does make a difference ... It really fosters a connection between nature and people,” said Brouillard, who works to save a blind opossum fighting to stay alive on the April 22 season-three premier of “Bandit Patrol,” a reality show on the National Geographic’s Nat Geo Wild. Tax-deductible donations allow Second Chances Wildlife Center to continue its mission to conserve wildlife through education and rehabilitation. For Munoz, scheduling a wildlife program at the library during spring break was an opportunity to give children “a little different” experience – even if their family was unable to travel.

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