August 30, 2012
A Volunteer Hero for Wildlife
Kenny Brown rescues countless animals at the South Florida Wildlife Center
For his extraordinary rescue work at South Florida Wildlife Center, Kenny Brown received a Wildlife Hero award at our volunteer appreciation dinner in the spring. We caught up with him for a chat.
How did you start volunteering on behalf of animals?
One day I was driving to work at a construction job, and I saw a pelican on the side of Interstate 95. He was just standing there. I knew something wasn't right. If he had moved about five more feet, he'd have walked into traffic and gotten hurt. I wasn't going to let that happen.
That was about five years ago. I called around to different agencies for help, and they said, "You catch it and bring it to us, and we'll see what we can do." When I found out they don't send anyone to help animals, I decided to start helping with the rescues myself.
"You never realize how many injured animals are out there."
I caught the bird, put him in the front seat of my truck, and took him to a wildlife rescue in Jupiter, Florida. That's when I learned about feather mites. He was covered with them!
Eventually, as I showed I would keep responding to these animals who needed help, wildlife rescues and law enforcement agencies started calling me when they had an animal that needed rescuing.
What sort of things do you help out with at South Florida Wildlife Center?
I rescue the animals for them. Lifeguards, police departments, all sorts of people call me to rescue animals. On average, I rescue 600 to 800 animals every year. I'm so glad there are places like SFWC who will help these animals.
Have you always been an animal person?
Yes. I never had anywhere to keep pets before, though. I grew up on the streets. I have some pets who are rescues—cockatiels, love birds, a parrot, cats—all of them had been abandoned or abused.
Tell us about some of your most memorable South Florida wildlife rescue calls.
I rescued this one bald eagle in West Palm Beach; it took me two days to catch him. He had fractured the tip of his wing. He could still fly short distances, but he couldn't fly well enough to soar and hunt. I eventually caught him in a net and brought him to the wildlife center, where he got the care he needed and was released back into the wild.
"Whatever it takes, I'm going to get them. I'm not going to let them suffer."
I rescued a full-grown deer. She was on a golf course. She had gotten shot on the back of her leg. She was strong! She head-butted me and almost knocked me out. I never knew a deer could be as strong as that. Unfortunately, she was too wounded, and she didn’t make it.
You never realize how many injured animals are out there. Without even getting calls for help, I can go to a marina and get pelican after pelican, all tangled in fishing line. I go to this one bridge—the pelicans get caught in this concrete water diversion structure there. They get caught in there, and there's no room for them to take flight and get out. I check that bridge about every night, and I find pelicans trapped in there.
Whatever it takes, I'm going to get them. I'm not going to let them suffer.