A day at a wildlife hospital

Nature and Environment

Foot cream for birds

Animals in captivity may suffer different injuries, but vets take care of all that. Here, they are applying cream to a red kite's feet. The bird was shot, illegally, but is recovering very well and might soon be flying again. Despite all these activities and the close human contact, the vets say this bird will be able to re-adapt perfectly to life in the wild.

Nature and Environment

Getting strong again

Physiotherapy sessions are key to the recovery of most patients in the wildlife hospital. By the time their wounds have healed, their muscles have become weak and they are unable to walk or fly freely in the wild. Massages and stretching are not pleasant for the red kite, but it still stays calm. In a few weeks it will feel strong again. Let's hope it stays far enough away from humans with guns.

Nature and Environment

Chicks - yummy for some!

After the foot massage and a physiotherapy session, the red kite is feeding normally, back in its room. This is a good sign, the vets say. It's a majestic-looking creature, but its food is a bit off-putting. It gets baby male chickens. They have been separated from females, killed with CO2, frozen and sold. At least here in the wildlife hospital, they are used for a good cause.

Nature and Environment

A black stork: a rare sight

Have you ever seen a black stork? They are quite rare - and extremely beautiful. They breed mainly in Spain - and of course they are also among GREFA's hospital patients. Most birds arriving at the hospital are victims of collisions or have been electrocuted by power lines. Unfortunately, many of them are so badly hurt that they cannot be released back into the wild.

Nature and Environment

Too cold to stay outside

In the reptilarium, European and Spanish pond turtles share the room with all kind of tortoises, snakes and lizards. But no worries, each of them has its own private sphere! Most of them were unable to hibernate. Mostly, it's because they were undernourished. After the winter they will hopefully be released into nature or enjoy the sun in one of the hospital's ponds.

Nature and Environment

Looking for a home

Abandoned turtles are amongst the animals that have trouble hibernating. In captivity, they often don't get enough sunlight or adequate food and are therefore not prepared for hibernation when left alone in the wild. Some species brought from abroad may also represent a threat to local species such as the European pond turtle, highly threatened in most European countries.

Nature and Environment

Beware: poison!

This black-headed gull is very weak, but much better than when it arrived. After some very serious food poisoning, it was almost unable to stand up, or even move its feet or react to anything. Obviously, it couldn't eat either. It has recovered very well and the vets are very optimistic that it will soon be set free.

Nature and Environment

Hospitalization: long but worthwhile

This small gull is much weaker and is still in the intensive care unit. It needs hydration, and also needs antibiotics and other medicines to avoid vomiting and nausea. It will stay in the hospital until the toxin is completely eliminated and it recovers its strength through vitamins. The process may still take a while, but the chances of success are high.

Nature and Environment

Learning with wildlife

In GREFA's wildlife hospital, children learn about the threats to wildlife — and how to protect it. Here they are watching how an enormous black vulture gets ringed and measured before being sent back to join its mates in the Pyrenees. This process is part of a conservation project that has already seen very successful results in Spain.

Nature and Environment

Back to life

A century ago, black vultures were almost extinct in Spain - one of its few homes. Through conservation efforts the vultures are now flying again in the blue skies of the Pyrenees. This one will carry a transmitter on its back to track its movements. Despite its huge size, the vets could treat the animal without any kind of anesthetic - but with a lot of care. Wow!! (Author: Irene Banos-Ruiz)

Animals need hospitals too - mainly to treat injuries caused by humans. DW visited GREFA's wildlife hospital in Spain, one of the biggest and most active in Europe. A day with its patients is anything but boring!