By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
WildCare Oklahoma, a non-profit organization dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation, has launched a capital campaign to raise funds to build a much needed and overdue new Rescue and Education Center.
“We have just started our largest project ever, building the 5,200 square foot Wildlife Rescue and Education Center on our site in Noble,” said Rondi Large, Co-founder and Operational Director. “We still have $100,000 to raise of the $375,000 project but we feel we have enough to start the process.”
Large says trees have been removed in the area designated for what she refers to as the “Center” in preparation for the new facility which will break ground on Saturday, March 1.
“This building is vital to ensure that WildCare can continue to rehabilitate wildlife at the highest possible level,” said Large. “It will also help us fulfill our mission of educating the next generations of Oklahomans about how to preserve our wildlife heritage.”
In the early 1980’s WildCare grew out of Large’s singlehanded effort to rehabilitate a few wild animals at a time.
Today, Wildcare is a fully staffed facility that has taken in and cared for over 55,000 animals.
“All of these animals certainly would have died without the public’s support,” Large said. “These are not just statistics. They are precious lives of magnificent wild creatures that desperately need your help to survive.
“We still have the naming rights available if someone or a company wants to donate more than $100,000 then the facility can be named after them,” Large added.
WildCare Oklahoma is made up of 7.5 acres located east of Noble. It includes 13,700 square feet of outside mammal enclosures, 26,000 square feet of outside bird enclosures, and 2,600 square feet of dedicated inside space, which evolved out of Large’s home.
“We are still using the inside space that we had 15 years ago when we only worked with a few hundred animals a year. In 2013 we accepted 5,280 animals.” Large said.
“With the new Wildlife Rescue and Education Center we can not only house more animals, but we’ll have an amazing education room where we can teach people about what we do and why we do it. We’ll also be able to give you a look at what happens behind the scenes with remote cameras in different rooms.
“You’ll be watching young owls trying to balance while they flap their wings for the first time. The volunteers and staff are always commenting about a breathtaking moment they observed while quietly working. With the Center we will be able to share these moments with you.”
In addition to Large, WildCare has two other volunteer directors: O.T. Sanders, M.S., Ph.D., Facility Director and Co-Founder, and Joe Carter, DVM, Medical Director.
Carter said, “Construction of this building is critical to our ability to accommodate the growing number of animals arriving at WildCare and will allow us to provide the best possible care to these animals in need.”
Large says the work hours at WildCare vary from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. in the winter to much longer hours beginning in the spring.
“When the little ones are here we start by 7 a.m. and we’re lucky to be done by 11 p.m. Then there are some late night feedings and monitoring for animals that are critical,” he said.
“Regardless of the season we provide care, every day of the year. Even on holidays animals need to be cleaned, fed, medicated and new animals arrive that are needing immediate help.”
Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma State Director for the Humane Society of the United States said, “WildCare is truly a shining star in the field of wildlife rehabilitation and their dedicated work is most deserving of the support of those who recognize the beauty and wonder of creatures who share our world.”
Large said, “WildCare supporters have always proven with many hands you can do great things.”
To become a member or to make a donation to the new Wildcare Rescue and Education Center, send checks to WildCare Foundation, 7601 84 St. Noble, OK 73068, call 405-872-9338, or visit wildcareoklahoma.org.