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Calvert County, MD Wildlife Rehabilitator Recognized for Rescue Efforts

“WETA Hometown Heroes” Features R.G. Wexler

Washington, D.C. — R.G. Wexler, founder of the Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center (OWRC), is the focus of a month-long “WETA Hometown Heroes” profile airing in February on WETA TV 26. WETA selected Wexler for his commitment to rehabilitating the wildlife in Southern Maryland. His profile premieres on Monday, February 5, just prior to the broadcast of “Antiques Roadshow” at 8 p.m. on WETA TV 26 and repeats throughout the month.

When the OWRC opened its doors to orphaned and injured animals in 1990, it was a fulfillment of a life long dream for Wexler. He had long been an advocate for animal rehabilitation, a commitment Wexler can track back to his youth when he found an injured baby rabbit. When he grew older, Wexler volunteered for seventeen years at the former Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary in Bowie, Maryland before using his lifelong savings and retirement to establish the OWRC in Lusby. The center is only one of five wildlife facilities located in the state, and serves the counties of Calvert, Charles, and St. Marys.

Since its founding, the OWRC has rescued over 14,400 animals. Located on Wexler’s three-acre home, the center rescues all animals — from mice to deer to porpoises. The OWRC operates under a strict “no kill” policy and will help any animal. The public and local veterinarians refer Forty to sixty percent of the animals; the remainder of the animals come in from animal control and the local police.

Although it is still the dead of winter, the OWRC is preparing for an influx of baby animals — ranging from rabbits to fawns — when the warm weather approaches. Springtime is known as the “baby” season, and the center will see up to twelve animals per day. The center is the only wildlife clinic in Maryland that operates a sonogram for pregnant mothers and an animal ambulance. Many of the babies seen are birds; most animals seen by OWRC are mammals.

“Birds are the hardest animals to care for. The babies need to be fed every fifteen minutes,” said Wexler. “That’s why I’m hoping to establish a separate facility just to care for birds.”

The OWRC is also the only facility in Maryland equipped to rescue wildlife in the Chesapeake Bay. The center owns three boats — two speed boats and a larger research vessel — all donated to the center by private citizens. Sea turtles, osprey and pelicans are among water wildlife seen by the center. The center is also equipped to rescue small whales that might become stranded in the bay.

Animals typically stay at the clinic from one to six weeks before returning to the wild. The OWRC has 12 volunteer veterinarians on staff to treat the animals. The other 25 volunteers include college interns, and the state department of natural resources licensed wildlife rehabilitators. The center also houses a training center offering classes for licensed veterinarians, Wildlife rehabbers and interns. It takes twelve CEUs and two years to become a fully licensed wildlife rehabilitator in the state of Maryland.

Wexler’s efforts are not just limited to the state of Maryland. In February 2006, Wexler traveled to the Galapagos Islands for three weeks in order to help spay and neuter 524 dogs and kittens along with Dr. Larry Richman, OWRC’s senior advisory veterinarian, and Matt Gambrill, a veterinary technician. While there, Wexler helped set up a veterinary clinic on the island in order for Ecuadorians to continue this work. The Ecuadorians will continue this important work on several islands in the future.

To learn more about the OWRC and how you may help save Maryland’s wildlife call OWRC at 410-326-0937 and leave a detailed message, or email the organization at owrc@chesapeake.net.

Now in its ninth year, “WETA Hometown Heroes” is an Emmy Award-winning multimedia project that heralds individuals who improve their communities and encourages others to volunteer service. This year, “WETA Hometown Heroes” honors individuals who are impacting the regions’ environmental issues through work in many fields, including the arts, literacy, health and education. WETA produces television profiles on selected individuals and their work in the community. To be involved and to submit nominations, visit the website at www.weta.org/heroes where you will find volunteer opportunities at area organizations, archived “WETA Hometown Heroes” features, and forms to nominate a hero.

“WETA Hometown Heroes” is made possible through the generous support of Park Foundation, Inc.; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; Bank of America Charitable Foundation and The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

WETA TV 26 and 90.9 FM are public broadcasting stations serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational, cultural, and news and public affairs programming and related services. WETA is committed to producing programs that highlight the history and people of the Greater Washington area. WETA produces WETA ALL ACCESS, THE WETA GUIDE, “WETA Neighborhoods” — featuring the National Aquarium, Day-Off activities, and Anacostia, respectively, in February — “WETA Around Town,” “WETA Hometown Heroes” and “WETA Extras,” spotlighting local people, places and events. WETA’s headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia. WETA was founded by public television pioneer and Arlington luminary Elizabeth P. Campbell. For more information on WETA and its services, visit www.weta.org. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO of WETA.

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