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Animals provide fun for wildlife center fundraiser

Mike Detloff co-founder Northern Illinois Raptor Center talks with guests about barred owl he is holding during fundraiser held by

Mike Detloff, co-founder of the Northern Illinois Raptor Center, talks with guests about the barred owl he is holding during a fundraiser held by the Fox Valley Wildlife Center on Saturday, October 13, 2012, at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 17, 2012 6:11AM

GENEVA — There wasn’t a cougar in sight at Fifth-Third Bank Ballpark over the weekend, even though the Kane County Cougars make it their home.

Instead, at least a dozen rescued wild animals were on display for the Fox Valley Wildlife Center’s Wild About Wildlife fund-raiser.

Two owls from the Northern Illinois Raptor Center attracted a stream of admirers — as did the red-tailed hawk that kept trying to break free from handler Mike Detloff.

“He really wants to fly today,” noted Detloff while keeping a firm grip on the bird’s leg leashes. “We got him from a shelter in Seattle, where he was seriously injured as a chick by an eagle that ripped open his chest and almost killed him.

“He recovered physically, but he was imprinted during his treatment, so legally he can’t be released into the wild. He really thinks he’s a person.”

Wildlife lovers posed for photos with permanent wildlife center residents like Snitch the Opossum and Toby the Turtle, for $5 apiece.

“Our financial situation has gotten better since five years ago (when the center had to close for one winter for lack of funds),” said volunteer Donna Kaszynsky. “But we still always seem to have more animals that need us than we have money to help them with.”

The wildlife center staff dedicated the event to Franklin, a fawn that came in for long-term care after a lawn tractor cut off one of his legs and severely injured another leg. Though he recovered enough to walk around the center on three legs, Franklin died from kidney failure caused by strong antibiotics used to fight an infection in his injured leg, Kaszynsky said.

“Everybody loved Franklin. He was so affectionate and sweet,” she said. “When he died, everybody cried and cried. You’d have thought someone’s mother had died, we were all so upset about it.”

The center is hoping to raise enough money and in-kind donations to open a new facility that would be large enough to adequately care for the 2,500 to 3,000 injured wild animals brought in each year.

“Each year, more and more animals need help, but we can’t do it where we currently reside,” said a statement in the event program. “We want and need to be handicapped-accessible, which is impossible in the old house (the Elburn Woods Forest Preserve ranger’s house). Please help by getting the word out, donating land or through monetary support.”

For more information, call the wildlife center at 630-365-3800 or visit its website at

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