Lindsay After COVID-19 Will Be Different

We Intend to Make It Better

Posted on: July 9th, 2020

Sheltering-in-Place Blog Entry #13

Main entrance to our building.

As we enter our fourth month of the ongoing pandemic, we have had some time to internalize the changes that this global event has forced upon our lives. Just about every aspect of our daily world has changed, at work, and in our personal lives. Most of us are learning to adapt while we wait for the development of a vaccine, better ways to test for exposure, and the creation of long-term strategies to learn to coexist with a virus that is not leaving us anytime soon.

Exhibit Hall, which many  Animal Ambassadors call home, remains closed to the public.

The disruption to our routines has been overwhelming at times. Things that we used to do have been curtailed, including family gatherings and the usual hugging, kissing, and sharing that comes with them. We miss those a lot. Also, the simple experience of going shopping at the supermarket or a store is now a scary proposition. Our work environments are completely disrupted, with colleagues currently working remotely and available only via online meetings or phone calls. Theaters, bars, sports venues, and restaurants are closed or only available partially (outdoor dining and curb-delivery only, for example). And outdoor spaces such as parks, trails, and beaches are now somewhat crowded and frankly feel unsafe when people are not following the recommended precautions of safe distancing, face masks, and sanitizer. I could go on, but you get the point.

We long for simple solutions and ending all of this disruption so we can get back to “normal” and regain the control we had over our lives. We want the world to be like it was before the pandemic, but…do we want that? Wouldn’t it be healthier to think of going forward to a better, more fair, and more equitable world than the one we have left behind?

Patient # 3000 for 2020, a Lesser Goldfinch, lovingly being fed by Megan.

Let’s think of our beloved organization and how it was before the pandemic took hold of our routines. We had a lot of good going for us. We loved our 500+ volunteers that came every day to support our work, interact with our animal ambassadors, help in the hospital, educate the public, and make everyone feel good about conservation and wildlife. We want all of our volunteers to come back safely, and we’re working towards that ideal. We had hundreds of children at Lindsay every day, with their parents and in school groups. We want those children back, too, to experience again the life-changing connection to wildlife that our programs provided them. And we want to continue the labor of love that goes into saving injured wildlife, rehabilitating these animals, and releasing them back into their environment. We haven’t stopped doing that during the pandemic, although there have been many changes to how we do it. 

On the other hand, our financial outlook was not exactly where we wanted it to be. While we were moving fast towards implementing strategies for a more sustainable and financially stable organization, the pandemic threw a gigantic wrench in those plans. It forced us to reconsider how we sustain our operations and programs, including working under a pretty severe deficit, which we managed to weather every year thanks to the generosity of our constituencies. But now those constituents and partners are also financially stressed and many are unable to continue their usual levels of support. Despite this, we developed an extraordinary fundraising effort, the Love for Lindsay Wildlife Campaign, that successfully raised $250,000 to help us deal with the uncertainty. We also took advantage of the US Department of the Treasury’s Payroll Protection Program to keep our excellent staff intact and productive. Now, we’re poised to deliver in-person outdoor programs and online programs that, together with our continuing fund development efforts, will keep us growing and providing outstanding wildlife and habitat conservation and education programs to our local audiences and the world at large.

A young rescuer with her dad brings a baby House Finch to our outdoor receiving area which is managed with the help of our wonderful volunteers.

As we continue to create a long-term sustainable business model, we are looking at opportunities to address questions such as how do we reach more people with our mission, including underserved areas of our Bay Area community? How can we better share our 65 years of expertise in wildlife care with similar organizations worldwide? How can we leverage our scientific knowledge and experience to create and sustain vibrant natural habitats with communities across California, the US, and even across the globe? How can we inspire more young people to become involved in conservation leadership, and train more people—volunteers and professionals—in wildlife veterinary care? How can we best partner with like-minded organizations and citizens to advocate for environmentally sound practices in our communities?

We are pragmatic and realistic. It will not be easy. But we are also committed and passionate about our mission, and convinced that the challenges presented by the pandemic also represent an opportunity to reassess our organizational model, reinvent some of our processes and methods, increase our audiences, and solidify our finances. We are building the new Lindsay on a strong foundation of love for wildlife and nature, a loyal and devoted constituency, a creative and dedicated staff and volunteer corps, and a deep desire to make a better world for ourselves and our children. A recent article in the Washington Post by columnist David Von Drehle defined the “Pandemic Pragmatist” as someone who understands the realities and consequences of the response to a deadly pandemic, but who also sees opportunities and can adapt and change as conditions improve. I like to think that Lindsay is a “Pandemic Pragmatic Organization.” We don’t follow the herd and take the most comfortable way out of our crisis. We analyze our options, follow the science carefully, prioritize the people that make our organization successful, and bank on our creative pool of talent and supporters to build our “institutional immunity” and come out of the crisis better than before.

Lead Animal Keeper Adam continues to train and exercise Valkyrie and other raptors during the pandemic.

Lindsay Wildlife Experience is here to stay. We’re not interested in surviving the pandemic. We’re keen to adapt, grow, and thrive through it to continue our life-long mission: To connect people with wildlife to inspire responsibility and respect for the world we share. To learn more about our response to the pandemic, click here.

Keep an eye on this blog and our e-newsletter to learn more about our plans as they become a reality.

Respectfully yours,

Carlos de la Rosa

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