Our menagerie of educational animal ambassadors includes twenty-six wild and domestic animals who assist our Humane and Wildlife Education Department with a mission of teaching the public about the interesting habits and characteristics of these creatures. Several of these animals also serve greater roles in wildlife rehabilitation, fostering injured and orphaned patients of their shared species in our clinic. In fact, most of our ambassadors were once patients themselves, but sustained permanent injuries or impressions that prevent them from being reintroduced to life in the wild. Some of these educational representatives can attend off-site programs and events, while others remain on our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center’s campus.

The community relies on us as a resource to care for animals, both wild and domestic.

Meet our Education Ambassadors below!

Martha – Great horned owl

Martha came to us in 2005 as an adult patient. Her left wind is drooping due to an injury she suffered in the wild and, because of this malady, she is not able to be released. In addition to serving as an educational ambassador at the programs and events, Martha also plays an important role in the rehabilitation and release of orphaned great horned owlets. When these owlets are brought in for treatment, they are often placed in Martha’s enclosure for foster care so she can show them how to act like typical great horned owls.

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Chuck – Red-tailed hawk

Chuck arrived at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center as an adult patient with an injured right wing that prevents his release. While in his enclosure, he enjoys resting high up on his perches, communicating with the local red-tailed hawks who fly above the area. he is an educational ambassador and travels to events and programs to teach the public about red-tailed hawks.

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Sid and Vincent – Turkey vultures

Sid and Vincent came to us as adult patients at around the same time. Both have injured wings that prevent them from being released. With these types of wing injuries, our vultures would be unable to scavenge for food in the wild. Sid and Vincent are excellent foster fathers to orphaned black and turkey vulture patients at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center!

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Ray – American crow

Ray arrived at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2002 as an adult patient. His right wing was injured in the wild, preventing him from being released. he is an extremely social and eager education ambassador, and even attempts to mimic human voices. Ray enjoys meeting new people and vocalizing his favorite phrase, which sounds roughly like “ssskkwhyyy”.

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Jake – African ball python

Jake was transferred to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center from one of our domestic shelter locations in 2013. Although the African ball python is not a native PA species, these snakes are known to be easy to handle and Jake, for one, serves as an excellent education ambassador!

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Casper – Texas rat snake

Casper is a leucistic Texas rat snake. Leucistic animals are usually white with gray/bluish eyes. Contrast that to albino animals which are usually lightly pigmented with pink/red eyes. Casper was surrendered to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2007 as adult and cannot see well through her right eye.

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Leela and Cecilia – Barred Owls

Leela came in as a patient at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in fall of 2018. She has a damaged eye that prevents her from seeing well enough to catch prey. Cecilia came to us from another rehabilitation center in 2014 as an adult. She had an injured left shoulder that required a surgical procedure to place a pin that set the bones in place. Leela and Cecilia live together and love sharing a perch. In the wild, Barred Owls hang out in communities and raise their young together.

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Irwin – North American porcupine

Irwin was born on May 7th, 2011 and has been a part of our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center since he was 2 weeks old! This North American porcupine is a public, staff, and volunteer favorite who came to us as a porcupette shortly after he was rejected by his mother. He has restrictive dietary issues and his diet needs to be carefully monitored each day. He loves to eat carrots and broccoli, along with pumpkin and his favorite snake – apples! Irwin has his own Facebook page and has been a guest on KDKA’s Pittsburgh Today Live Morning Show.

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Captain, Jack, and Davey – Red (“Silver”) foxes

Captain, Jack, and Davey were purchased in Ohio and illegally brought into PA as pets. Captain (the lightest fox) arrived at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in 2011. Jack and Davey were brought to us by the Pennsylvania Game Commission in 2012. In 2013, we built a larger wildlife enclosure for them directly in front of our wildlife clinic. “Silver” foxes are a melanistic form of the Red fox. (i.e. they are red foxes with an overabundance of dark pigmentation). Captain, Jack, and Davey are not releasable because they are captive bred and habituated to people. As education ambassadors they bring joy to many visitors.

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Adrienne, Ollie, and Vedder – Eastern box turtles

Adrienne (F), Ollie (M), and Vedder (M) came to us separately for various reasons. Our education ambassador turtles were either injured in the wild or taken as pets and improperly cared for by members of the public. Two of our male turtles are missing toes on their front legs, and one has a shell injury. Since our box turtles cannot be released, they remain with us as educational ambassadors and heroes in a half shell.

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Clover – Striped skunk

Because of laws that govern Rabies Vector Species (RVS), we are unable to use a former rehab patient skunk for off-site education programs. Clover is a de-scented captive bred Striped skunk who was born in May of 2016. She was purchased from a licensed breeder and brought to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center when she was just a few weeks old. While Clover cannot spray, she will stomp her feet and raise her tail as if she were about to perform the mechanism for defense. Clover is a very active skunk and loves her daily enrichment.

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Stinky Pete – Common musk turtle

Stinky Pete was brought to us in the summer of 2016. He was a member of the public’s pet for 20 years and, when they could no longer care for him, they surrendered him to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Must turtles are native to Pennsylvania, but since Stinky Pete was cared for over such a long period of time, he would not have been able to fend for himself in the wild. The Common musk turtle’s name comes from the smelly odor they release when they are spooked or defending themselves.

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Gustave – Wood turtle

Gustave came to our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center after he spent the first part of his life as a pet. He was improperly cared for and abused, have had a hole drilled through his shell. Turtles have feeling in their shell, and this would have been extremely painful for him. Fortunately, he is now in terrific care at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and has turned out to be a wonderful educational ambassador. Each morning he loves to take a bath in his pool and hang out with his new turtle pals.

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Bruce – Big brown bat

Bruce and his litter mates came to us as patients in the early summer of 2016. After their rehabilitation was complete and Bruce and his littermates were released, it was discovered that Bruce was unable to fly. He since resides with us at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center as an educational ambassador. Bats are rabies vector species, so Bruce is only able to be handled by staff members with their rabies vaccinations and training. Bats are a crucial part of the environment, eating hundreds of bugs each night. In fact, Bruce can eat between 10 and 20 mealworms in one feeding!

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Meet Our Educators


Sandi Comunale
Humane & Wildlife Educator
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Sandi has a Bachelor of Science in Biology (history minor), with an M.S. in Environmental Science and Management (biology concentration). She has several years of experience in the field of informal science education and environmental community outreach.

Making humane and wildlife education enjoyable and accessible to all facets of the community is her passion, and she is thrilled to pursue this passion with us! Outside of work, Sandi enjoys traveling, trying new foods and the outdoors.


Mia Lalley
Education Ambassador Keeper
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Mia has a Bachelor of Science in Zoo and Wildlife Biology (psychology minor). Mia started as an intern with us in 2017, before moving on to a seasonal position, followed by a full time position with our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center!

She recently joined our education department, where she cares for and trains our education ambassadors. Outside of work, Mia enjoys spending time with her husband and son, hiking, and cooking.


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