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Fox Valley Wildlife Center open house features creatures great and small

Ashley Kendall director Fox Valley Wildlife Center Elburn holds CaptaJack Barred Owl. | Photos by Denise Moran~For Sun-Times Media

Ashley Kendall, director of Fox Valley Wildlife Center, Elburn, holds Captain Jack, a Barred Owl. | Photos by Denise Moran~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 7, 2013 1:34PM

ELBURN — Area residents flocked to Fox Valley Wildlife Center’s annual open house on Sunday afternoon to enjoy the various animals and activities such as a pie walk, bake sale and painting pumpkins.

“We thank everyone for coming,” said Carpentersville resident Ashley Kendall, the center’s director. “This is my third year here. We are a non-profit organization. Our main motivation is to return animals to the wild. If people find orphaned or injured animals, please call us.”

As an example of rescued wildlife, Kendall said they were given a robin the day before that had been tangled in fishing line. It was bruised and stressed.

“Once we removed the fishing line,” Kendall said, “it started acting like a normal robin. It will eventually be released.”

While Kendall let visitors see Captain Jack, a Barred Owl, her husband, Sean, had Zhina, a red-tailed hawk, perched on his arm.

“When Zhina was young,” he said, “he was hit by a car. He had severe neurological trauma.”

At one time, Zhina was not able to perch or even stand upright for any length of time. Today, Zhina, Captain Jack and other rehabilitated wildlife are brought to educational programs so that the public can learn more about them.

Donna Kaszynski of North Aurora has been a volunteer at the center for the past five years. She recalled a Sandhill Crane that was raised from a chick to a 6-foot tall adult bird at the center. It eventually was taken to the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wis.

When asked if the bird had been given a name, Kaszynski said: “We don’t name them if they are going to be released. They are not pets. If they make it to adulthood, we want them to get feisty. We want them to be able to survive in the wild. Wildlife creatures have different personalities. They are all special, and they all deserve a life.”

Arden Zich, a volunteer at the center, said the bird room is her favorite place.

“I’ve been a volunteer for three years,” Zich said. “I couldn’t love it anymore than I do. It is a rewarding experience.”

Some of the birds that have received care in the bird room include: quails, pigeons, pheasants, grouse, and a Scarlet Tanager.

Elburn resident Janet Enoch likes to work in the mammal room. She told visitors how a baby squirrel brought to the center might start out in an incubator, transition to a cage, move to the outdoor squirrel gazebo, and finally be released into the wild.

Enoch said her favorite animal is the opossum.

“I love opossums,” she said. “Most people don’t understand them. They don’t deserve a bad rap. They are non-aggressive.”

Jean Erlenborn and Carrie Casper of the Midwest Museum of Natural History in Sycamore brought Vladimar, a Russian tortoise; Ally, a bearded dragon, and Daisy, a ball python, to the wildlife center on Sunday.

A favorite animal at the wildlife center is Yodi the coyote. He was born with two of his siblings under a local homeowner’s deck.

Kaszynski said the family that found him originally thought the three pups were German Shepherds.

While Yodi’s siblings remained wild enough to eventually be set free, Yodi bonded more with humans than he did with his own kind. Since he would have a hard time living in the wild, Yodi is now a permanent resident at the center.

The center is state and federally licensed to care for wild birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. It does not receive any federal, state, county or local funding. It operates on fundraisers, memberships and donations.

For more information, contact the center at 45W061 Highway 38, Elburn, IL 60119, (630) 365-3800;

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