Come Fly With Me

Sanctuary rehabilitates, provides refuge for wildlife

Finn Wilburn, Staff Writer

Raptors, the original birds of prey, are a large group of more than 500 species, including hawks, owls, falcons, and eagles. And yes, you read correctly: raptors are birds, not dinosaurs, despite popular belief.
Raptors come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Andean Condor, a raptor with a wingspan of up to 10 feet, to the black thighed falconet with a wingspan of up to 10 inches, which, for perspective, is comparable to the average sparrow.
Raptors are found on almost every continent on the planet [excluding Antarctica] and are some of the most notorious flying predators. Sadly, over the past few years, their numbers have been declining due in large to human activities.
Yet, some have taken up the mantle and vowed to protect these animals from extinction. The Raptor Hallow Sanctuary’s mission is quite simple: to protect the earth’s biodiversity and ensure that all raptors have a future.
They are a non-profit organization based in the lovely Beech Creek Botanical Gardens of Alliance, Ohio. The sanctuary was founded in 2016 by Joshua Kuszmaul, an Ohio-born and raised animal life and wilderness scientist who worked at many different animal protection organizations such as The World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park and the Stone Zoo in Massachusetts before founding his own sanctuary.
They provide refuge for birds of prey, as well as reptiles and some mammals that are unfit to be released back into the wilderness. Instead, they stay at the sanctuary as what they like to call animal ambassadors to help educate the public on the importance of the conservation of wildlife through engagement, and as of today, about 26 animals are under the protection of the sanctuary.

Irene Warner

All who work at the sanctuary have a true passion for animals, and many have been volunteering for a variety of non-profit organizations since childhood. For Hoover senior Sarah Meyers, taking care of animals has been a lifelong dream.
“I’ve always wanted to work with animals — since I was ten years old,” she said. “I was at the Hartville Hardware store getting paint, I saw a community message board with a flier for the sanctuary on it. I asked my mother if I could join, and she said it would be perfect for me, I’ve worked there for almost two years now.”
The sanctuary’s team includes a variety of people with educations mainly in some form of biology or wildlife sciences; they rely heavily on volunteer workers, as well as a couple of interns and a few staff.
“I clean things, feed the animals, and teach people about them,” Meyers said.
Globally, human-caused environmental impacts such as habitat loss, pollution, fragmentation, and climate change have caused the extinction of thousands of animals and plants throughout the world, and raptors are among the most threatened, with 52 percent of them being among the endangered species list as of today.
In the sanctuary’s own words, “humans are the only species capable of saving our planet.”