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Jane Goodall's granddaughter lends her hands to Sonoma County's wildlife

  • Angel Van Lawick, granddaughter to famous primatologist, Dr. Jane Goodall, prepares to feed a baby barn owl during her visit to Sonoma County from Tanzania. Van Lawick is working with Doris Duncand, director of Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue, in placing orphaned barn owls with wild mothers at Lynmar Estate near Sebastopol, May 1, 2014. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Angel van Lawick, a visitor from Tanzania, last week gingerly placing orphaned barn owlets into Sebastopol-area vineyard boxes inhabitated by adult owls that she and her local hosts hope will adopt the hungry fuzzballs.

Later on, the 19-year-old van Lawick used a needle tube to feed formula to days-old baby skunks whose mother was accidentally killed on a nearby ranch.

These are fairly extraordinary activities for someone on her first-ever trip to America. Van Lawick came to volunteer for Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue largely, she said, because "my grandma thought it would be good for me."

Orphaned Barn Owls

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That grandmother, Jane Goodall, the globally renowned chimpanzee authority and conservationist, does seem to possess a pretty good sense of the mutual good that can come from people engaging constructively with animals.

Granddaughter van Lawick, who lives in Dar es Salaam and is traveling the world between high school and college, was feeling grateful late last week that Goodall had hooked her up with Sonoma County.

"I've had a lot of fun. I've never done anything like this before," she said while feeding one of the baby skunks at Wildlife Rescue's hilltop care center on Meacham Road, between Cotati and Petaluma.

Her link to Sonoma was Tom Furrer, the retired Casa Grande High School teacher who founded the Petaluma school's acclaimed fish hatchery and creek restoration project. Furrer and van Lawick's grandmother became friends when Goodall came to Petaluma in 1998 to visit him and the students involved in Casa Grande United Anglers.

The two of them spoke last summer, and Goodall mentioned that prior to entering college her granddaughter would travel and do good works thanks to Roots and Shoots, the international effort by Goodall to involve young people in environmental, animal-welfare and humanitarian pursuits.

Retired teacher Furrer is a friend and advocate of Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue. He told Goodall the group surely would relish a chance to meet her granddaughter and introduce her to its mission.

Van Lawick spent all of last week at Wildlife Rescue, an especially busy place at this time of year because of the arrival of many young, orphaned or ailing raccoons, skunks, squirrels and other mammals.


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