Wildlife Rehabilitation in an Unlikely Place

by Elizabeth Watkins

The Silver Serpent, Photo by Elizabeth Watkins

Discovering the hidden gems in one’s community can help people gain insight into activities and programs that they may have never known existed. Similar to people, local businesses can be much more than they appear at first glance. 

This is the case with Silver Serpent Exotic Gifts, a popular exotic gift shop on Court Street. They sell mostly smoking and e-cigarette accessories. Looking on their Facebook page, they are described as a “collectables store,” a “cultural gifts store” and of course, as it says in the name, a gift shop. 

If one were to look further in the store’s page, they would also see how they have  posted about wildlife, and the work they have done involving different species on their website. One post in March 2019 talked about a primate cage installation they were helping install in Wilkesville along with the Union Ridge Ranch. Upon seeing this information about helping animals, and their animal motif with the store, I was curious to find out more. 

I stopped by the Silver Serpent to ask about their work with animals. Cory Boggs, a Silver Serpent employee, was eager to talk about the rehabilitation work that they do for animals. They have established a relationship with the Union Ridge Wildlife Center, where many of the Silver Serpent employees volunteer. According to Boggs, they help, “build infrastructure, and feed the animals and other odd jobs.” 

The Union Ridge Ranch itself helps with taking in animals. At one time they took in a family of opossums that had been given to them. They also buy incubators to help animals keep warm, or build infrastructure to house animals that have been abandoned. Additionally, they promote sustainability and conservation in many of their posts online. 

I noticed that the Silver Serpent had multiple animal motifs, notably the name, their sign featuring a snake, along with the snakes they have inside the store. Boggs informed me that animals have always been very important to those who work there. When Silver Serpent was first founded, the employees there began by helping small animals., Eventually, they began working with much rarer species, like tigers, lemurs, and bald eagles. The Silver Serpent website details their extensive work with rehabilitating animals. 

As I was leaving the store, he concluded our talk by recommending the program. “I highly recommend checking it out, they need all the help they can get,” he said. 

If you are interested in volunteering for the Union Ridge Wildlife Center, you can reach them at 740-596-9453 or unionridgewildlifecenter@yahoo.com

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