WReNNZ (Wildlife Rehabilitators Network of New Zealand) is New Zealand's leading national wildlife network focused on best practice wildlife rehabilitation. Many of WReNNZ members run wildlife centres, work in wildlife hospitals and provide wildlife training. We profile members to encourage increased community support for wildlife, WReNNZ and the wildlife work of our members. If you are interested in wildlife we encourage you to join WReNNZ and if you are in Tauranga please support your local rehabilitation centre, ARRC Wildlife Trust.
Q&A with Dr Liza Schneider, Vet and Founder, ARRC Wildlife Trust, Tauranga
1) What prompted your interest in wildlife?
Growing up in South Africa, with majestic landscapes and a rich diversity of wildlife, my childhood was full of incredible animal encounters. I was fortunate to have my father, an active conservationist, facilitate intimate and inspiring interactions with wildlife from a young age… getting up close with a wild African elephant and being able to count its eyelashes, assisting in the rehabilitation of orphaned lion cubs, cheetahs, wild dogs, baby hippopotamuses and rhinoceros along with many more extraordinary wildlife experiences.
And while many children would have been lucky to grow up with a cat or dog as a pet, I also had a monkey, chameleons, snakes, a tortoise, goose, birds, gerbils, hamsters and mice in my collection of much loved pets. For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to work with animals.
2) When did you start your practice and where are you based?
In 2003 I established Holistic Vets and ARRC Wildlife Trust in Tauranga.
3) How many animals have you helped and how many are you caring for now?
With the help of our incredible team, we care for thousands of animals every year. ARRC Wildlife Trust takes in more than 800 birds per year.
4) Do you have a favourite species to care for? If yes, why?
On the wildlife front, one of my absolute favourites are baby waxeyes. They are such enthusiastic, determined, strong and endearing little birds. Moreporks are another favourite with their beautiful eyes, incredible intelligence, I find them very humbling to work with. Of course, we always like to say “there’s always time for a shag”! I love shag’s stroppy natures and how resilient they can be. So many come in with fishing tackle issues such as fishing line wrapped around their wings or a hook through their foot and they manage to survive with these awful things sometimes for weeks before anyone can manage to capture them for care. I find it so rewarding to remove the tackle and set them free.
5) What are the hardest things and the best things about wildlife rehabilitation?
Hardest: the relentlessly unforgiving high mortality rates, especially when you’ve put your heart and soul into treating a bird, it appears to be doing well and then dies a few days later unexpectedly.
Best: The release! Especially sharing the moment of elation with our team who work so hard to achieve a happy ending. A close second is being able to inspire people about the importance of respecting our wildlife when speaking to community groups of school kids where we share our work.
6) How long have you been a member of WReNNZ and what prompted you to join?
Many years, I can’t remember exactly how long! It’s great to be part of a group of like-minded people who do their best to help our wildlife and promote conservation and animal welfare.
7) What do you enjoy most about being a member?
The regular newsletters are great but I have especially enjoyed watching new blood come aboard and the organisation evolve to be even more efficient, proactive and professional.