By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury native Jessica Zorge is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. It’s her passion. She is part of a group of rehabilitators that are on call to help when needed in rescuing a variety of species. Zorge is also a licensed raptor educator and works for Charles River Laboratories in Shrewsbury.
She was recently called upon to help rescue a swan with an embedded fish hook found in a pond in Framingham. She said that it was the patriarch of a swan family and his mate was nearby with their babies.
Zorge and a group of others went out to assess the situation. The rescue took a couple of days. The first day, they used paddle boats and nets but they didn’t have a good opportunity to capture the swan.
“I left that day feeling defeated,” she recalled. “We came up with another game plan. Myself and my friend Amanda [Szucsik], who is a veterinarian, went out and with the help of someone who had been watching the bird… I had stopped at a local farm stand and got a bunch of treats and sat on the dock and slowly waited. Mom came with all her babies and ate. Slowly they left and then the dad approached. I had to reach out with my arm to grab it and pull it on shore. It was just a waiting game.”
At the right moment, she was able to grab it and proceeded to remove the hook with her friend’s help. Happily, it didn’t require any treatment and it was quickly reunited with its family.
“I specialize in hawks and owls but could not let this swan suffer,” she said. “I want to really stress to anglers to please pick up their gear to prevent these injuries from happening.”
Zorge grew up in Shrewsbury and is a graduate of Shrewsbury High School and Becker College in Worcester, where she earned a degree in veterinary science. She briefly served in the military.
“I hold a federal and state permit to help wildlife in Massachusetts,” she noted. “The federal permit allows me to help native birds…I’ve been permitted for eight years now for the state and almost five for the federal government.”
She said that this spring has been crazy. She has received about 50 phone calls in the past month alone.
Much of her rescuing is on her own time and dime. She is fundraising to help her expand her operations and she wishes to acquire new enclosures that are specialized for the birds of prey in her care.
“My goal is $11,000 and I am currently a bit over $9,000,” she stated. “My daughter Harper is also very involved with our rehabilitation and rescue efforts. She has been on many missions with me.”
The funds “will definitely increase my capacity of me helping the animals that are in need in our area…Having this enclosure will triple the amount, which would be amazing,” Zorge said.
For more information and to help, visit Zorge’s GoFundMe page.