The squirrel lay spread-eagle in the driveway of the RV park, apparently another casualty of a fast-moving vehicle. As I got nearer, my dog tugged at the leash, excited at the prospect of finally catching a squirrel. I held firm on the leash and prevented him from pouncing, feeling sorry for the little squirrel smashed to bits by a Goliath of metal and rubber. Then the squirrel opened its eyes.
The squirrel was still alive, but it was badly injured, paralyzed in the lower half of its body. I didn’t want the poor, little thing to be run over again when it couldn’t move, so I grabbed a towel, picked it up, and lay it carefully on the ground beneath a bush while I figured out what to do. I couldn’t bear the thought of the squirrel suffering, but I didn’t have the courage to end its life. I was also holding on to a childish hope that somehow the squirrel could be saved. I started calling veterinarian hospitals to see if they could help. They referred me to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum Hospital. I placed the squirrel in a container, drove to the wildlife hospital and handed the squirrel to the hospital volunteers, who were busy taking in a steady stream of injured birds and animals.
The Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, California got its start back in the 1950’s, when Alexander Lindsay founded the Diablo Junior Museum Association to teach children about nature. The museum evolved over time, and in 1970, a formal wildlife rehabilitation program was formed, the first of its kind in the country. Today, the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital is open seven days a week to receive and care for orphaned or injured native wildlife. They treat more than 5,000 wild animals each year with the help of approximately 350 volunteers. All medical services are provided free of charge, but donations are essential to this program. They provide a much-needed service, as development encroaches further upon wildlife habitat and results in more injured and orphaned animals.
When I dropped off the squirrel and made my voluntary donation, I was given a reference number that would allow me to call and check on the status of my little, injured friend. When I called a few days later, I was told that the little guy died shortly after I dropped him off. I felt sad when I heard the news, but at least he didn’t suffer long.
In addition to the Wildlife Hospital, the Lindsay Wildlife Museum provides exhibits and a vast array of programs to educate children of all ages, as well as adults, about wildlife. Children can participate in a petting circle, observe feeding demonstrations, and meet animal ambassadors to learn about their wild neighbors, among many other activities. For more information about the Lindsay Wildlife Museum or to make a donation, go to their website.