Sunday, February 24, 2013

Hawaii: Finally for the Birds

The Hawaiian Islands are surrounded by 2,500 mies of open sea--the world's most isolated landmass. Until now, there was no refuge for birds who became sick or distressed, mainly due to man's handiwork, such as oil spills and plastic flotsam. Opening this spring, on the green nub that is the north tip of the Big Island near the town of Hawi, is the Hawaii Wildlife Center, a treatment center for birds of the sea, shore, and forest.

Our flying friends can thank the center's founder, Linda Elliott, who synergized a years-long effort to bring the vision into being. Using all private funds from private donors, Elliott led a team of volunteers ranging from architects to gardeners to create a state-of-the art facility. She has worked throughout the world rescuing and returning to the wild thousands of birds. The gleaming new wildlife center is easy on the eye, but also is testament to form following function, with areas that allow for all the steps in caring for a variety of birds and ailments.

Hawaii Wildlife Center is not a zoo with animals on display, but visitors are welcomed. A native plant garden surrounds an outside interpretive area that will feature many educational displays, as well as real-time video feeds of the indoor activity. Proceeds from a retail store will be tilled back into keeping the center functioning. Surrounded by lush greenery on Lighthouse Road, the HWC is also a pleasant refuge for visitors touring the Big Island, not only for its tranquility but also for the sense of community spirt that it imparts.

Hawaii Wildlife Center
53-324 Lighthouse Road, Kapa‘au, HI 96755