Our extraordinary colleague and friend, Wendy Fox, the Executive Director of Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Florida for the last 10 years, passed away this week. In addition to being a wife and mother of two, Wendy was an expert in the field of aquatic bird rehabilitation with a particular focus on Brown Pelicans.
Wildlife rehabilitators are personally committed to providing emergency and long-term care for wild animals in need, with the lofty goal of eventually getting them back into their natural habitats. For the most part, this is not an easy business. Rehabilitators see animals with horrible injuries, illnesses and other unfortunate circumstances that are caused primarily by people on a daily basis. It takes a resilient and deeply committed rehabilitator to endure long enough to become a respected leader of our profession.
During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, large numbers of orphaned Brown Pelicans were brought to the rehabilitation center in Louisiana. Baby pelicans separated from their parents and raised by humans are vulnerable to habituation with humans. It is essential for their welfare to surround them with other pelican role models and give them pools, branches and other items to simulate a natural environment. We needed specialized help providing the best possible care for these vulnerable chicks, and turned to Wendy Fox and Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Florida, which raises many baby pelicans every year. Wendy took dozens of these chicks into her sanctuary and successfully raised and rehabilitated them to a releaseable state.
Once president of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA), Wendy was known for professionalism, leadership and compassion. Like the staff of International Bird Rescue, she loved the pelicans that she treated every winter en masse. She generously shared with all who were interested the knowledge she had gained during her years of caring for these birds, and she truly lived our philosophy that “every bird matters.”
Wendy Fox made a tremendous impact on thousands of wild and human lives. She will be deeply missed, though her legacy will remain in the birds she loved and the rehabilitators and others that she inspired.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station.