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501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization | The Ellijay Wildlife Rehabilitation Sanctuary does not presently rehab migratory or birds of prey
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Improvement Projects at The Wildlife Sanctuary

We are excited by the many wonderful upgrades that we have identified at The Wildlife Sanctuary. Some of these are for our visitors, some of these are for our animals, and all of them are to improve the lifesaving work being done by our staff and volunteers.

Buildings: the Sanctuary has two buildings on the property that include electricity but are not finished on the inside. These need insulation, sheet rock, paint, trim, and HVAC. One will house the new sanctuary office upstairs and a store downstairs for ticket sales and memorabilia. The second will become the new reptile house. When completed, these buildings will become part of the new front end of the Sanctuary.

We are also looking for a two-story 30x60 metal building to place on our 40x80 concrete pad. This building would house food, the nursery, a library, and provide some additional indoor capabilities for inclement weather.

Parking: there is a large, partially graveled parking area just outside these two building. The surface area needs to be fully graveled to expand the parking.

Signage: there are two separate needs for signage. The first is for directional road and path signage so visitors can find their way through the sanctuary. The second is for habitat signage that provides educational information and pictures about each animal and species. There are over 40 permanent resident animals at the Sanctuary that cannot be released due to their injuries or restrictions from the DNR. These animals are used in the Sanctuary educational tours.

Food: the Sanctuary has a 40 x 80 foot concrete pad that needs resurfacing so a metal building can be placed on the pad. This building will be used for food preparation, dry storage, and refrigeration for meat and vegetables. Food preparation and storage is currently handled in 3 different areas, which is inefficient. This building would also house a new nursery.

Nursery: raising infant animals is one of the hallmarks of The Wildlife Sanctuary. Orphans can arrive anywhere from several days to several weeks old. Many do not have their eyes open at this stage. They require small feeding tubes and incubators. Since the Sanctuary can be handling dozens of infants of different species on any given day, many incubators are required. All the feeding equipment must be cleaned and sanitized after each use. Some of these infants are tiny. For example, an opossum may have up to 25 babies in its pouch, and all of them together would fit on a single tablespoon!

The existing nursery is near the end of its useful life, and it is more economical to build a new nursery than to try to salvage the existing one. In addition, infant animals require feeding throughout the day and night, so there must be sleeping quarters within the building. No one person can handle such a large task, which requires several volunteers or paid staff.

Aviary: the Sanctuary has an area earmarked for a raptor rehabilitation aviary. The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Natural Resources requirements for rescuing, raising and releasing small birds and large raptors now require staging cages and pre-release flight cages. As a result of these changes, the Sanctuary had to cease raptor rescue, rehab and release until it can upgrade its aviary facilities to the three-stage rehab aviary.

Pathways: the Sanctuary is situated across a mountainous area. The roads and paths within the sanctuary are bare ground that is muddy and slippery when wet, and roads frequently wash out or become deeply rutted. This makes travel through the Sanctuary hazardous for volunteers, staff and visitors. Some of these need grading and paving, while others can be managed with gravel. Upgrading these roads and pathways will allow the Sanctuary to handle more visitors in a safer manner, and add attractive, scenic flowers, plantings and water features.

Amphitheater: the Sanctuary has a wooden stage and wood seat amphitheater that is exposed to the elements. In addition, the sound equipment is also exposed to the elements. At the least, the seating needs to be replaced with aluminum stadium benches, the sound equipment needs protective housings, and the stage and storage building need protective sealant applied each year. This amphitheater is the main educational facility when large school groups visit the Sanctuary.

Webcasting: the Sanctuary has compiled substantial expertise in rescuing, raising and releasing wild animals. As part of its educational mission, the Sanctuary is investigating the filming and broadcasting of this information across the web from this web site. The Sanctuary has documented the performance standards for Georgia public schools so that the content in the podcast videos would qualify as school field trips.

Virtual Field Trips(TM) will be particularly meaningful to Title I schools in Georgia, since most of the students at these schools cannot afford to take an actual field trip. The Sanctuary has already been discussing broadcasting its content to these schools via the Internet so that children in Title I schools have the same educational advantage as any other school in Georgia. When successful, the Sanctuary intends to expand this webcasting to any school in the country that would find the content useful and educational.

Habitat upgrades: several of the habitats within the Sanctuary were temporary facilities for rescue and release. However, changes in the rules by the DNR in Georgia mean that some animals, such as the bears, are now permanent residents but living in cages that are not suitable for permanent housing. The bear cages need to be enlarged and engineered for easier access to the one-half acre exercise area that already exists for the bears. There is sufficient land for this expansion, but insufficient financial resources at the present time.

Self-Guided Nature Trail: there are several trails through the sanctuary where hikers can observe indigenous vegetation. The Sanctuary would like to add a guidebook and signage at various points to identify interesting plants and trees for expanded nature education. Creating these self-guided nature trails would be an excellent Life Scout project for attaining the Eagle Scout rank.

Animal Sponsorships: the Sanctuary would like to upgrade the marketing materials it sends to its animal sponsors. This would include an 8x10 glossy photo of the sponsored animal, plus a separate write-up about the animal, its species, habitat, range, food, and conservation status. Since the Sanctuary handles over a dozen species, the design, written content, editing, graphic design, printing and fulfillment is a major marketing project.

Exhibit Booth: throughout the year, the Sanctuary has opportunities to put up a display at cultural events. The Sanctuary could display at more events if it had a simple pop-up/tear down booth with excellent graphics representing its work in rescue, rehabilitation, release, education and partnership. There are several frames suitable for easy pop-up/tear down, but the key to their success is the impactful pictures and design. In addition, the booth has to be suitable for both indoor exhibit hall display and outdoor durability in wind and inclement weather. The booth design needs to incorporate these environmental elements.

Summary: these are the top tier projects that The Wildlife Sanctuary intends to undertake as donations permit. If you know of someone who might be able to help, please have them give us a call at 706-276-2980. We would be only too glad to hear from them.

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