Grand Rapids Family Rehabilitates Wildlife

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – It’s been 20 years since a Grand Rapids couple started treating injured and abandoned animals.

Peg and Roger Markle turned what once was their farm home into the Wildlife Rehab Center.

“These guys are here to get better and get released back into the wild,” Peg Markle said.

More than 100 animals walk through the snow-covered yard in the Markle’s backyard. Birds in cages and even in the couples bathtub are what a person would see if they come to visit.

The couple is licensed to care for the animals and works with a local veterinarian for the things they’re unable to do.

With the exception of Sadie Sue, the family dog, no domestic animals are allowed.

“That’s Freddy Farkle and his wife Ruby,” Peg said, as she shows off their two peacocks.

Just last month, FOX 17 brought you the story of a Trumpeter Swan that was stranded out on a Newaygo County Lake. It now has a temporary home at the rehab center. With a broken wing, Peg said, the bird would’ve starved to death. It’s since had surgery and is recovering.

With nearly 25 volunteers on staff, more than 1,800 animals were treated last year. With this frigid winter things aren’t slowing down any for crews.

“These little, little guys are having just such a hard time this winter,” Peg said. “They’re either been injured or sick. When you put them outside they can’t use up all their energy staying warm when they’re trying to get better.”

Covered areas, laced with several large lamps, are used to heat the area for the outdoor animals. But, keeping the guests warm comes with price.

Peg said their electric bill will be about more than a thousand dollars. But, Peg said it’s her calling to take of the vulnerable animals with nowhere to go.

“Someone’s gotta be a spokesperson for them,” she said. “Someone’s gotta help them, because I would say 85 to 90 percent of the time, the animals that we get in are because of humans.”

Wildlife Rehab Center runs 100 percent off donations. A fundraiser will be held at John Ball Zoo on Wednesday, February 19. The doors will be open from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. Food, wine and a silent auction will be part of the fun. Tickets are $25. The money will go toward the animals at the center.

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