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Traveling Around - Livingston, Louisiana - Wings Of Hope Sanctuary
Rehabilitation In The Low Lying Forests of Louisiana
South of Livingston, Louisiana, tucked away in a heavily wooded remote area is Wings Of Hope Sanctuary. Established in approximately 1995, it has expanded slowly from caring for birds and mammals in need of rehabilitation to a menagerie of animals both sickly and well. It began in the home of Leslie Lattimore, the director, when she cared for first a single animal and then several in a bedroom in her home.
After she moved to Louisiana from Colorado about 30 years ago her children began finding pets that couldn't fend for themselves. They expected their mother to fix the stray pet. This graduated to neighbors bringing a pet or a newly found injured bird and gradually the space and noise requirements led to moving to a small building on the property.
There is a very good video located at YouTube Video which shows the remoteness and some of the activities that take place at Wings Of Hope. There are many pictures and much information about the sanctuary at their website. The sanctuary is a non profit organization and is constantly in need of help and donations. No government funding is allocated to its operation and financially it functions solely upon donations. Further information is available on the website.
We arrived at the sanctuary in mid morning. It's at the end of several country roads. The parking area has a fenced area on the left and the director's home on the right. Immediately in front is the small building containing the office. In the large fenced area are several dogs that raise a cacophony of sound as we get there.
The office / entry is a solid building that is small and cramped. Originally the building was a rickety outbuilding that worked fine for the stray and sickly animals until one day Leslie fell through the wooden floor.
That building was converted to the entry / examination center with space, rooms, and a solid floor that now houses several cages and birds. It is multiple small rooms and when we walked through the examination room, there was a small family of baby black squirrels in one cage, two cages of quail families that were being grown to provide food for the larger birds, a small hedgehog, and a very large Yrtle the Turtle, who lazily wandered around the room.
A few feet out the back door of the entry / examination room, a cement slab floor and building were constructed where Leslie has an education center. The building is used as a hands on area for young students when they tour and in additional to animals that can be enjoyed contains educational materials that Leslie uses during the tours.
Treatment for the seriously injured animals is available and several veterinarians in Baton Rouge are consulted as necessary. Sometimes surgical treatment is necessary and sometimes simply love and food is all that is required.
Since those initial buildings, there have been several additions. A pole barn houses machinery and supplies while a low bunkhouse looking building holds the mouse families that are raised as food for the raptor as well as a smelly family of skunks. Beyond the pole barn is an aviary that currently houses the peacock pictured above, two pelicans, and a small family of ducks. The aviary provides a 150 foot flight space in an L shaped environment. Large birds have space in which to regain their strength and flight stamina. In another corner of the property is an above ground swimming pool that allows otters to re-acclimate the their normal environment.
A large fenced area with two smaller buildings holds another very large tortoise, a Shetland pony, and a pot bellied pig that exceeded its miniature expectation and outgrew the space an original family could supply.
Activities At The Center
When we walked through the Examination Room on our way back to the offiice, a volunteer was preparing food for some of the baby inhabitants. In use was an eyedropper and a pair of tweezers as she mixed a milky substance with some meal worms.
The Center depends entirely on donations and grants. It receives no funding from any organization on a regular basis. It can use all the help that anyone can provide. In addition to gifts of money, there are many supplies that are appreciated. A listing of needed supplies and a link to a donation page is on Leslie's Website.
In the acreage that holds the sanctuary, there is a mammoth amount of labor that is performed by Leslie and her volunteers. Any person with talents or just plain energy that is interested in volunteering can contact Leslie in several different ways that are listed on her website..