Roosevelt Islanders

Rossana Ceruzzi, Wildlife's Best Friend on Roosevelt Island

Updated 51 weeks ago David Stone
A Rescued Squirrel Rebuilding Strength
A Rescued Squirrel Rebuilding Strength
Photo Courtesy: Wildlife Freedom Foundation

"Hi, David," she calls, pedaling by on the West Promenade, the last syllable trailing behind her. It's Rossana Ceruzzi, off on her daily animal rehab assignment. Long before RIOC bungled its attempt to shut down the Southpoint cat sanctuary or admitted serving up contaminated water, Roosevelt Island's best friend for animals was doing her work.

Rossana Ceruzzi has whizzed past me more times than I can count over the years. I first met her over ten years ago as she coasted under the Queensboro Bridge on her way to a lawn behind Goldwater Hospital.

Cornell Tech was not on anyone's radar yet.

Rossana Ceruzzi, Wildlife's Best Friend on Roosevelt Island

"I heard there's an animal rehabilitator on Roosevelt Island," my editor said. "See if you can find her." 

Not such a tough assignment, as it turned out. I googled and found Ceruzzi, a founding member of the now defunct Island Cats, featured in his newspaper.

After a short introduction, we arranged to meet while she worked her rounds, a couple of days later.

An Italian teacher at Parliamo Italiano, now part of Hunter College, Ceruzzi spent much of whatever hours she could spare to ministering to injured and abandoned animals on Roosevelt Island. Her bike, basket filled with donated supplies, enabled her to cover ground quickly.

On this chilly, gray morning, Ceruzzi had no time to waste.

I barely introduced myself, getting to know her as something more than a subject before she ordered me to stand back across the road with her bike.

She walked quickly toward a lone Canada goose in a grassy area near the lower loop road.

I was aware of this flock, chasing them out of the road when out on early morning runs. Daily News delivery trucks whipped past what later became Southpoint, neither careful nor worried about PSD patrols before daybreak.

Later over coffee, Ceruzzi tells me that she saw this bird limping a few weeks ago and began treating her with the voluntary support of caring veterinarians.

"She probably had a hard landing on the road."

Before she completed her mission, Ceruzzi persuaded a groundskeeper with a large mower to pause long enough for her to do her work. He stood by while she nonchalantly approached the bird, tossing her two chunks of bread which are eaten immediately.

“One is an anti-inflammatory. The other is the antibiotic,” Ceruzzi explained. “I try to get close enough to get a look and see how the swelling is.”

Next she tossed handfuls of delicious seeds which were seized by the goose along with a small army of pigeons.

"It builds  trust," and will make her next visit easier.

Free to talk, Ceruzzi recalls growing up near Bologna and Rome in a family that loved animals. She came to the U. S. in 1992 and made Roosevelt Island her home in 2001.

While we chatted, the mower's path closed in on the goose until, finally, she spread her wings and after a running start floated over the promenade and into the river.

"Her mate is waiting in the water," I was told, and we heard the squawking of a happy reunion as she rejoined her clan.

Ceruzzi rescued and treated countless animals in her, by then, fifteen years on Roosevelt Island. Many of her rehabilitations involved, not unexpectedly, squirrels, known for their zany antics but spurred to heights of recklessness in mating season.

She's also saved the life of a chicken, a possum and a groundhog.

In 2016, the Roosevelt Islander blog told the story of a kestrel bird she rescued and rehabilitated back to nature.

Now, Ceruzzi has formed the Wildlife Freedom Foundation. Its mission is "to help protect and conserve wildlife and other animals in New York City."

With its base of operations on Roosevelt island, WFF aims to continue and extend her efforts. They can use your help. To continue helping animals, they need food, blankets, vet care, volunteers and foster homes. If you can help, click here.

And for the overall mission of the Wildlife Freedom Foundation, money donations always helpful. Do what you can by clicking here.

Rossana Ceruzzi has been doing her part for years in making life better for vulnerable wildlife, even as local habitats have shrunk dramatically. If you can pitch in, she and the animals will love you for it.


Comments powered by Disqus




Assorted Ideas

Roosevelt Island Water Tunnel #3

Roosevelt Island’s critical role in New York City Water Tunnel #3 is not well-known. It’s the largest capital construction project in City history, and we’re in the middle. We reported in 2017 that two temporary roads were being built to support the project. But that’s only the surface. “New York’sContinue Reading

The post Roosevelt Island Water Tunnel #3 appeared first on Assorted Ideas, Large & Small.

Roosevelt Island Stop ‘N’ Swap Success

Roosevelt Island Stop ‘N’ Swap, Saturday, November 8th, was a hit. Sponsor GrowNYC packed the Manhattan Park Theatre Club with eager recyclers. GrowNYC organizes Swap ‘N’ Shop events to encourage reuse of gently used clothing and other goods. Roosevelt Islanders proved eager swappers. Keep up with local happenings: Roosevelt IslandContinue Reading

The post Roosevelt Island Stop ‘N’ Swap Success appeared first on Assorted Ideas, Large & Small.

Roosevelt Island Subway’s 30th Birthday

Roosevelt Island Subway’s 30th birthday passed, last month. Did you miss it? Our reader Sylvan Klein didn’t. While I served on a grand jury, Sylvan caught the Transit Museum‘s reminder on Twitter and sent me the link. The first time I set foot on Roosevelt Island, eager to learn theContinue Reading

The post Roosevelt Island Subway’s 30th Birthday appeared first on Assorted Ideas, Large & Small.

Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting 2019

The Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting for 2019 headlines a holiday event on Friday December 6th, RIOC said on Thursday. Treats and music kickoff at 7:00 on the Rivercross Lawn. In 2017, RIOC moved the seasonal celebration across the street from its longtime home at Blackwell House. Since then, it grewContinue Reading

The post Roosevelt Island Tree Lighting 2019 appeared first on Assorted Ideas, Large & Small.


MST&DA wins NYSCA Award, the theatre arts nonprofit announced on Wednesday. Roosevelt Island’s Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance is a first time recipient of the State’s Council on the Arts grant. “Our state’s creative industries generate a total of $120 billion to the state economy, account for 466,000 jobs,Continue Reading

The post MST&DA Wins NYSCA Award appeared first on Assorted Ideas, Large & Small.