Meet Michelle McKay
Director of Fallen Acorn Wildlife,
NC-licensed wildlife rehabilitater,
& professional wildlife educator
For 8 1/2 years, I was a teacher and guidance counselor; then, however, I started volunteering at a local zoo, where I gained experience raising and training everything from baby goats to baby tigers! I eventually became the manager of that zoo, and I completely changed my career path to focus on animal education.
After a year of amazing experiences, I started my own education outreach business: Zoofari Educational Encounters. Zoofari was licensed with the USDA and I taught thousands in schools, libraries, and assisted living homes about the animals with whom we share this world. In that time, I also relocated closer to a mentor of mine and began to lead public tours around her facility as well, sharing over 20 different animal species with excited guests.
I closed Zoofari Educational Encounters and changed my business model to fulfill the need for qualified, experienced facilities that can provide long-term placement for all different kinds of displaced exotic species. Fallen Acorn Wildlife Center, born from Zoofari, is meant to fulfill that need. The mission of FAWC is more in line with a non-profit business and it is my hope that by shifting my focus, I will be able to provide exceptional long-term care for FAWC’s residents.
Our mascot, Charlie the Dog
My son and his father found Charlie sitting strangely on the side of a road. Once they investigated, they realized he was very scared and was dragging his back end. Of course, they brought him home, and upon further inspection we realized he had several burns on his body and cuts all over his face. We took him to the vet; his back was severely broken, it turned out. Our veterinarian consulted an orthopedic surgeon and both agreed that surgery would most likely do more harm than good. They told us that we would need to express his bladder multiple times a day and he would not have any control over his bowels. None of this mattered because our whole family felt that this boy had found us for a reason.
At first he didn't want us out of his sight, and for weeks, he didn't make a sound. Through contacts of friends, we were fortunate to have one woman donate a wheelchair for him. From that point on, he LOVED playing outside with our other dogs. Though he couldn’t wag his tail, we quickly learned his special body language. It usually shows that he’s happy and wants loving! We became HIS family and he grew to have a very large bark that he uses whenever someone comes to the door.
Charlie passed away recently from a very medication-resistant bladder infection but the impact he had on all that knew him will last forever. We miss him very much, and I wish he could know how he helped me get in touch with the strength and perseverance I needed to conquer challenges that were coming my way!