Where’s Maanasa? BLUE RIDGE WILDLIFE CENTER, Boyce Virginia

Where’s Maanasa? Blue Ridge Wildlife Center


Hey PawSquad Summer friends, it’s Maanasa! Today we’re doing something different and visiting some animals that don’t live in your house, but might live behind it… it’s backyard wildlife week!


There are many wildlife centers all around the United States to help wild animals that become injured or orphaned (without parents).  They have a variety of education programs, camps and events year-round to help people & Pawtectors like you learn more about wildlife in your area. 

Today, I’m going to tell you a story to explain how a super cool place, called Blue Ridge Wildlife Center in Boyce Virginia works:


Let’s say you’re outside and having fun, when you see an injured squirrel sitting on the road. The first thing you do is call Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, and they talk your adult through the next steps, while they send someone to pick the squirrel up. Then our squirrel friend goes to the animal hospital within the Wildlife Center to be all healed up! Once he’s better, they release him back into the wild right where you found him. If he’s not able to take care of himself anymore, they keep him at the center in their animal sanctuary to help him live out his best squirrel life!


Before we get started, I just wanted to share one VERY IMPORTANT tip!   NEVER, pick up an injured/sick animal with your bare hands, always wear gloves to protect you and the animal.   And NEVER pick up an any wild animal yourself.  Always find an adult to help.


Now that you understand what the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center does, let’s meet some of the animals in their animal sanctuary.   Blue Ridge have facilities that house animals indoors and outdoors.  Indoors we have the animals that need to stay cool and can no longer be outside.  So let’s meet some of our indoor friends we got to know today.

This is Dopey:



Dopey fell out of his nest when he was young, and now he’s not quite capable of doing things like other screech owls. But that’s ok, because we can help take care of him. Just like humans, different animals have different needs, and all of them are valid! We extend compassion to all humans and animals, regardless of whether they are like others or not, right?  What’s one way you’ve shown compassion to a human or animal in the past week?


Meet Slim.  She is a snake that got stuck to a glue trap that a human left out to catch mice.   How sad is that?   But she was lucky a kind human found and saved her.   Slim is an Eastern Black Rat Snake. There’s a common misconception that snakes are mean and something to be scared of, but that’s really not the case. Just like any other wild animal, snakes are wild, and aren’t used to people. If you approach a snake in the wild, it might be scared of you! The only reason they might bite is because they think you’re trying to have them for dinner. So to keep both you and the snake happy, it’s best to watch from a distance. Slim specifically is used to people because they helped heal her from the glue trap injury!



This is Scooter, a Northern Diamondback Terrapin, and she’s super excited today because she recognizes our friend CJ as the person who brings her food! Animals like this are super awesome because they know who we are, and are able to recognize distinctions like smells, appearance, or even footstep sounds.   She lives in a large tank with all kinds of fun habitat features to entertain her daily.



Now it’s time to head out to the wildlife walk (the outdoors) portion of the animal sanctuary. Usually Jasper the fox would be ready to greet us, but he had a treatment on his mouth today and isn’t able to say hi. They also have lots of birds and raptors, but it was super hot and our feathered friends were staying cool in their enclosed shelters, so today we’re meeting some other mammals!   


Meet Gizmo the opossum. Opossum’s are Virginia’s only marsupial! Do you know what a marsupial is? Marsupials are a type of mammal that carry their babies in a pouch on their body, like kangaroos or koalas! Have you ever seen photos of opossums with all their babies on their back? It looks like this:



(Photo from Wildlife Rescue League) Well, that’s what happens when they get big enough to leave the pouch: they catch a free ride on mom’s back!



Welcome to where the skunks live. Blue Ridge Wildlife Center has two skunks, Bear and Mocha. They might look super different to you, but they are actually the same species, just two different colorations! Animals come in all different colors based on the pigments that they have. A pigment is something in an animal’s skin and fur that gives it color. Pigmentation can have different variations that make an animal unique, like all black (called melanism – all pigment) or all white (called albinism – no pigment). 


Meet Mocha (We got to watch them feed her today!)


Meet Bear (He was named because of his bear life claws!  Do you see them in the photo?! )  We got to watch him enjoy an afternoon snack too!


Lastly as we finish our tour, the Center keeps a wild turtle pond with natural plant life. Native plants are so important in keeping our bees healthy and the local biodiversity up. One thing you can do to help your local wildlife is to grow wildflowers in your own yard!  Remember to leave wildlife alone and always call your local wildlife rehabber when you see an animal in need of help. Nature can be enjoyed from a distance, and does best when we don’t interfere!




Before I say bye, here are some important resources to give your adult:


Blue Ridge Wildlife Center helps animals throughout Virginia. 


Animal Help Now website: https://ahnow.org/    This is a great resource to help you find a Wildlife Center close to you in the United States.


Thank you for joining me today for backyard wildlife week to learn about what the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center does and how you can help wild animals, all while meeting some really awesome friends along the way. As always I hope you learned something new, and if you did, be sure to tell a friend or adult a new fact!


Your PawSquad Summer friend,




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  • Blue Ridge Wildlife Center
  • Debbie H – photos 
  • Animal Angel Aid 
  • Maanasa S – photos
  • CJ – BRWC Education director 



If you haven’t signed up for PawSquad Summer, here’s the link for more information & to sign up on our online learning platform: linkin.bio/pawtectorsprogram

PawSquad Summer “virtual” weekly camps run July thru August. Once a camp week goes LIVE, you will have access to it ALL summer. Super cool! You’ll never miss a day of animal fun & experiences.