By: Shannon Smith and Sue Young
Dr. Gloria Urban, a professor who is a 21 year veteran of the Criminal Justice department at NMU, has another remarkable job when she isn’t teaching – she works to rehabilitate animals, helping primarily to raise orphan wildlife and take care of injured adult animals in order to return them to the wild.
Gloria began rehabilitating animals in 2000 after some prompting from her close friend, Julie Robson, who is also a wildlife rehabilitator. Having originally homesteaded herself on 30 acres of land, which she calls Echo Woods, Gloria lives in the middle of the forest at a location near Skandia. She now is able to use that land for rehabilitating animals, allowing them to have a more natural environment. Gloria mentions that she “feels absolutely at peace there” and lives “a very grateful life.”
Working together, Gloria and Julie founded Lilliput Wildlife Rehabilitation. While Gloria handles mainly small mammals, specifically specializing in raccoons, coyotes, and red fox, Julie mainly works with birds and white tail deer, among some other animals as well. Gloria’s rehabilitation efforts are licensed by the Department of Natural Resources, and Lilliput Wildlife Rehabilitation is considered to be a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization.
The following are a few stories from Gloria’s wildlife rehabilitation efforts:
- Currently, Gloria is watching over a baby flying squirrel, which was found orphaned, and a tame, overweight raccoon someone had raised as a pet. Both animals will be released in the spring.
- A possum with metabolic bone disease, which causes the back legs to splay out, also spent some time at Echo Woods. Kept on an expensive zoo diet, the possum eventually recovered and was released, or more accurately, released himself in the spring in 2010.
- In addition, Gloria has had many coyotes, one of which named Dingo. This coyote would often run around with a toy doll in its mouth, causing Gloria to use the exclamation of “a Dingo’s got my baby!”
- A raccoon, which Gloria called “Tiny Tim,” was taken in as well and was very ill, probably due to a stroke when he was little. He stayed at Echo Woods through the winter and was “just an amazing little thing,” Gloria states, because she “did not think he was going to live.” In fact, Lilliput Wildlife Rehabilitation is the only rehabilitation center in the U.P. that rescues and rehabilitates raccoons, and in 2011 a total of 25 raccoons were released.
A goal of Lilliput Wildlife Rehabilitation is to return all of the rescued animals back to nature by autumn, and when her “babies” are released, Gloria tends to get a “bad case of empty nest syndrome.” Luckily, school resumes just in time for her to get a new group of “babies” – her new students. Like all mothers, Gloria loves all of her “children” equally, whether it be the students that she passionately teaches or the furry ones that she rehabilitates.
Rehabilitating animals, Gloria declares, “is my joy, and I would like to be doing this full-time” after she retires from another of her great joys – teaching.
Dr. Urban teaches in the areas of law enforcement, research criminology, forensic psychology, community service and judicial function. She has a B.A. and M.A. in psychology from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary areas of educational psychology, administration of justice, and psychology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
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