The wildlife reserve returns from a difficult year

ONSLOW COUNTY, NC (WITN) – Sniffles and squeals were the sounds that marked a new beginning for Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary in Onslow County as they officially reopened. Sunday.

“We try to allow people who love animals to have a place to express that love and to be able to do things for them,” said sanctuary director Toni O’Neil. “Or just being able to support them financially knowing that there is a place that will continue to be here forever.”

The sanctuary has faced many challenges over the past year, including hurricane damage and the loss of fundraising and volunteer opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently renovated, O’Neil said he has the opportunity to teach the North Carolina wildlife community while caring for those injured and in need of rehabilitation.

“We get a lot of babies and people think they can raise themselves or birds of prey,” volunteer Andrew Baughman said. “They think they can keep his pets, but unfortunately it’s not better for the animal. They need care so they can be released back into the wild.

Care Baughman knows well, like with opossums.

“You can’t really free an opossum with more than half of its tail missing,” Baughman said. “They don’t use it to hang like you see in the movies. They use it for balance and collecting nesting material.

Several of the sanctuary’s tenants are education ambassadors, including a rabbit named Lorette, who is used to educate the public about the dangers of raising rabbits.

“People raise a lot of rabbits and a lot of pets in general. Pet rabbits can’t survive in the wild,” Baughman said. “They’re meant to be pets. Education is to help educate the public about the wildlife my North Carolina is so important to help conserve.

At 16, Baughman fearlessly takes on the responsibility of education.

“Getting to know your affective nature in such a positive way, fighting the negative effects of people, releasing them back into the wild, it’s very rewarding. If the animals weren’t here, we wouldn’t be here, so it’s It’s very important for me to be able to do that too,” he said.

Fall fundraising is the sanctuary’s largest source of community revenue. Over $4,500 in prizes were raffled off to generate funds for continued animal improvements.

Guided tours are available daily at the sanctuary located at 119 Doe Dr. Hubert, NC 28539. Find more information on how to visit or support Possumwood Acres. here.

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