One of the busiest hospitals in Middle Tennessee is now almost overrun with patients. In fact, it's never had more admissions than it does right now.
Walden's Puddle in Joelton is the only wildlife hospital in the state and is now bursting with babies in feathers and fur.
The facility took in more than 3,000 baby possums, fawns, birds and other animals from 41 counties last year - an all-time record that is about to be smashed.
Maybe it was the mild winter, or maybe it's just that all the other hospitals for wild animals couldn't make it, but the phone at Walden's Puddle keeps ringing.
"If you find something injured or orphaned, that's not something we set out to do, but as others in the area stop doing it, we've had to absorb those animals year after year. There simply is no other place to go," said Bettina Bowers Schwan, Animal Care Director at Walden's Puddle.
As great as Walden's Puddle is, it is suffering under the load. Although the agency gives 92 cents of every dollar donated directly to the care of its animals, it still costs more than $20,000 a month to maintain.
Consider the expense, for example, to feed a finch every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, and that's just bird feed.
"If we are going to be there for them when they have that need, and we do serve people as well as the animals, they have to help us and dig a little deeper," said Walden's Puddle Chairman Lane Brody.
In just the short time our news crew stopped by Walden's Puddle, several worried people brought in the injured, wild animals they've found in the community.
Each person also left a donation for the facility, because in Middle Tennessee, it's often Walden's Puddle or certain death, and the people who love to see wild creatures get a second chance appreciate that.
For more information, and if you would like to contribute, visit: http://www.waldenspuddle.org/.
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