The purpose for this Go Fund Me is to raise money for Steve Serwatka, Chris (his helper) and the animals at New Jersey Nature. The animals need our help! If you can't donate money please try donating products or your time!! Thank you so much!!
Under the pictures is an article explaining more about what Steve and Chris do.
CAPE MAY COUNTY – Pigs, iguanas, tortoises, cats, raccoons, ducks, foxes, alligators, and an otter are among the animals that have found homes at Steve Serwatka’s New Jersey Nature rescue.
Founded as a non-profit animal rehabilitation organization 25 years ago, Serwatka has had a love for animals since his having live pets in his classroom as a science professor.
Now the animal control officer for West Wildwood, Avalon, Dennis Township and Sea Isle City.
“It sort of grew into what it is now,” Serwatka said, adding that his reserve has about 150 animals he cares for out of his own pocket or through donations. Since its founding, Serwatka has seen everything from venomous snakes to a coatimundi.
Though some animals are rehabilitated for release, adopted, or given to the Cape May County Zoo – some become lifelong residents, such as Olive the otter, who was raised by humans since he was a baby and can’t be rereleased.
“He was raised with people too long, he’s like a puppy,” he said. When animals such as Olive are raised alone without their own kind, their likelihood to readapt to the wild is slim.
Scarlet the fox, one of Serwatka’s favorites, has also found a permanent home with him as well after being found near the Cape May Lewis Ferry as a baby. The coatimundi, a South American mammal with similarities to a raccoon, was relocated to the zoo and now goes by the name “Mr. Pickles.”
Over the years, Serwatka has had to become an expert on a wide range of animals to give them the proper kind of care. More than anything, his rescue work highlights the perils of taking on an exotic pet without the right education.
“They’re all people’s pets. Some animal control brings us, some we pick up, the state gives us some animals sometimes too,” he said.
Now, he says, it’s all too easy to purchase any kind of animal a person wants such as lions or tigers, particularly in Pennsylvania where some of his animals are from. With both a state and federal permit, Serwatka is able to take in animals from out-of-state that are questionably or illegally purchased.
Echo the deer is one New Jersey Nature residents who came from Pennsylvania. Moo the pig also crossed state lines before coming under Serwatka’s care.
Sometimes, a venomous snake will find its way to the rehabilitation center as well, but Serwatka doesn’t like to keep them around the reserve and will often try to relocate them to the zoo.
“It’s bad enough having something you can’t take care of, but then they have animals that can kill them. I think they think if they raise it from little baby it’s going to love them but it’s just not true,” he said.
In spite of some difficult beginnings, many of the animals co-exist peacefully with one another though occasionally getting a headbutt but from resident goat Jackson. Dogs, cats, ducks, geese, goat, and pigs all co-mingle in the yard – with some unlikely friendships forming.
Moo the pig is in a committed relationship with a Canada goose who sleeps with him every night and plucks fur from his coat
“We have some weird relationships budding out here,” Serwatka laughed. “Love is blind out here.”
He said a common misconception is that the rescue is funded by the state.
“We get nothing. We even pay for the licenses,” Steve said. “If we didn’t take the animals, I don’t know what they would do or where they would go. We try to stay open and do what we do, but it gets old at times because you get tired of asking for money because it’s a small county. It’s the same people every time.”
One of the few rescues of its kind in Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic County, Steve said it’s easy to get n addition to specializing in animal rehabilitation, New Jersey nature also offers birthday parties and animal education programs.
This was written by Madison Russ with The Wildwood Leader.
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