Our menagerie of educational animal ambassadors includes wild and domestic animals who are a part of our Humane and Wildlife Education Department.  They educate and inspire the community about the wonderful world of animals and how to positively coexist with them, with the goal of fostering a lifelong appreciation of animals and the environment.  

 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.  

Learn more about our ambassadors’ stories and natural histories below! 

Meet Our Educators

Sandi Comunale
Sandi ComunaleSenior Humane & Wildlife Education Specialist
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.

Katie Campbell
Katie CampbellSenior Humane & Wildlife Education Specialist
Katie had always dreamed of working with animals and earned her B.S. in Zoology at Kent State University. Her love of teaching was ignited while working at a summer camp that she had attended as a child. She has now worked a number of years in the field of informal education.

Her favorite parts about being an educator are getting to share her love of animals and conservation with others and inspiring people to make a positive impact on the world around them.​ In her free time, she enjoys painting, going to spin class, and re-watching Lord of the Rings with her cats.

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

Meet our Education Ambassadors below!

Amenti – Red-tailed hawk

Amenti came to the Wildlife Center as a patient in 2019, and was diagnosed with West Nile Virus. While she overcame the virus, she now has some lasting effects that prevent her from being released back to the wild.  She has been learning the ropes here at the Wild Side ever since! Because of her young intake age, we were able to witness Amenti’s red tail feathers grow in. Red-tailed hawks get their red tail feathers around two years old! Amenti is also highly food-motivated and does well with daily training from staff. Training sessions are not just fun but also important for their health!  We want to make sure they are comfortable, active and mitigate stressors to ensure a healthy ambassador! Training sessions help positively reinforce important behaviors such as getting a daily weight and allows the bird to choose to participate in their care. 

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Thelma & Louise – Virginia opossums

Thelma and Louise came to the Wildlife Center as patients in 2021 as juveniles after a member of the public had kept them, and they became habituated. Opossums often get a bad reputation, but did you know that opossums can eat over 5,000 ticks a year? Thelma and Louise help teach the community that there is a lot more to these creatures than what meets the eye! 

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Vinnie – Turkey vulture

Vinnie came to us as an adult patient with a wing injury. With this type of wing injury, she would not be able to successfully scavenge for food in the wild. Vinnie has lived with another vulture ambassador in the past, and they had acted as excellent foster parents for juvenile black vulture and turkey vulture patients at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center!

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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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Leela and Cecilia – Barred Owls

Leela came in as a patient at our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in fall of 2018. Her right eye is non-functional and prevents her from seeing well enough to pass her flight tests. Cecilia came to us from another rehabilitation center in 2014 as an adult. She had an injured left shoulder that resulted in a full amputation of her wing. Cece and Leela live together and love sharing a perch. In the wild, Barred Owls can hang out in communities and raise their young together. 

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Jacob and Davey – Red (“Silver”) foxes

Jacob and Davey were purchased in Ohio and illegally brought into PA as pets. Jacob 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). Jacob, 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 and Vedder – Eastern box turtles

Adrienne (F) 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. Vedder is missing the toes on his front leg and has a shell injury. Since our box turtles cannot be released, they remain with us as educational ambassadors! 

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Clover – Striped skunk

Clover is a de-scented Striped skunk who was born in May of 2016. While Clover cannot spray, she can still 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 to dig for her favorite snacks-mealworms! Skunks have an incredible sense of smell and long, shovel-like nails to help them excavate their dinner! 

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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, Stinky Pete joined us at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Musk 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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Bruce – Big brown bat

Bruce has been an ambassador since the early summer of 2016.  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 Education Ambassador Alumni below!

Martha came to us in 2005 as an adult patient. Her left wing droops 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 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.

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 and communicating with the local red-tailed hawks who fly above the area. Chuck is an educational ambassador and travels to events and programs to teach the public about red-tailed hawks.

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. Ray 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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