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Earth Day Every Day Heroes: The Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida

Founded in 1982, the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida is an incredibly special place. If you have ever come across an injured bird or small mammal, you may have felt helpless. Most of us would not know what to do to help alleviate this vulnerable animal’s pain and fear. Thanks to staff of the Sanctuary—who are active members of the Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Association—we have trained professionals who can take in these gravely injured critters. Home to dozens of injured and recovering wild animals, the Wildlife Sanctuary is the “go-to” spot for any wild animals injured in the greater Pensacola area. The Wildlife Sanctuary’s ultimate goal is to rehabilitate as many animals as possible for re-release into the wild.

The female seminole bat and her pups were released after being cared for at the Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

The Wildlife Sanctuary has excellent resources on their website to help people understand the best course of action if they find an injured or orphaned animal. Online, they discuss safe animal handling and transportation (staff cannot come out to retrieve animals—they must be brought in), and then go into great detail, by species, on understanding the behavior of animals ranging from bats to fledgling birds, opossums to bears.

In addition, Wildlife Sanctuary staff also do a tremendous service in public outreach and community education, as you may see them at festivals with their rehabilitated birds, teaching enrapt groups of all ages. The facility itself is open for tours from Wednesday-Saturday, and they host several large events each year—WILDfest in the fall and the spring “Baby Shower” that bring in donations and supplies to support the Sanctuary all year long.

Volunteers 18 and older play an important role in the care and maintenance of the facility—from cleaning and laundry to feeding and fostering animals. Volunteers can help any day of the week during business hours (8 am-5 pm). If you are interested in helping but cannot volunteer, they are always appreciative of donations. Donation items needed include meal worms, live crickets, gloves, berries, vegetables, paper towels, birdseed, and fresh or frozen meat. Gift cards to home supply and improvement stores are helpful, as well. The Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida is located at 105 North “S” Street, Pensacola, FL 32505 and staff can be reached at (850) 433-9453.