Tucked away along the banks of Buckeye Lake, right next door to the town's Recreation Center, is a place called the Genesis Wildlife Sanctuary. Founded in 1993, it is a non-profit, tax-exempt, all volunteer facility dedicated to the rescue, treatment, rehabilitation and eventual release (where possible) of injured, abused, or orphaned wildlife. All permanent wild animals at the Sanctuary have disabilities that prevent their release back into the wild. We make a habit of dropping by whenever we're up on Beech.
Recently, it came to our attention that Genesis is moving to a new location at at the base of Beech Mountain at Eagle's Nest in Banner Elk (still not very far away). Some very generous benefactors donated some land and a lot of money for new animal habitats. I learned from their director that the location on Beech Mountain will remain, but will mainly be used for training volunteers and housing their exotic animals.
We stopped in today and said "hello" to some of the Santuary's regular residents, as well as a few newcomers since we were last there. Sasha, the Great Horned Owl, is a favorite with us. His broken wing keeps him permanently at the Sanctuary. Owls are fascinating birds, and I always relish the chance to get a close look at one. Sasha seemed pretty used to visitors, and posed nicely for Alex's cell phone camera.
We spent a lot of time watching a trio of rather frisky raccoons, who seemed very anxious to get closer to us (Remember, though, no matter how cute the animals are, it's important to keep your fingers to yourselves when you visit. These are still very much wild animals.). And I was surprised to hear them making adorable little whimpering sounds, in addition to that characteristic raccoon purring/trilling sound that we're all familiar with.
Some of the other animals you can see at the Sanctuary include bobcats, squirrels, ground hogs, and all kinds of songbirds, to name just a few. Those they are able to nurse back to health are set free as soon as possible, and I understand that they enjoy a very high success rate in returning animals to the wild. It's amazing what they are able to do on donations and volunteer work, so be sure to contribute a little when you visit.
You can learn more on their website at www.genesis-wildlife.org