I expected my internship to be more about cleaning up after wild animals than actually handling and working with them. I thought that because I was inexperienced and “just an intern” that I would be thrown all the dirty work that nobody wanted to do and then maybe a few times be allowed to pet a possum or help hold an injured animal.
During the first week of my internship, that’s exactly what happened. I was cleaning cages, feeding and watering animals, doing chores outside. I never once stepped into the rehabilitation room except to sign in and out for my shift. After the first week, however, I discovered that my internship was turning out to be the exact opposite of what I expected. By the second week, I was already hand feeding over 100 baby birds, learning how to pull medications, and administering medications to animals by myself. By the third week, I was doing intakes and examining new animals that came in, cleaning and helping to dress their wounds, and determining what medicine they needed. Throughout my internship I also handled animals that I never thought I would never be able to touch, such as possums, squirrels, owls, hawks, and more and by the end of my time at Possumwood I could practically run the rehabilitation room by myself because I had been taught how to take care of and handle every animal that came in, from day old baby birds to an alligator, through hours of in-depth and hands-on training.
By the end of June, I wasn’t just an intern. I was a wildlife rehabilitator, which is not a title I ever expected to earn after taking on the role as an unpaid and under-experienced intern.