Introducing the new Wildlife Rescue and Education Center at WildCare

This page is under construction. Check back soon for complete information, July 20, 2012

Watch our video about the Wildlife Rescue and Education Center. Big thanks to Galen Culver with KFOR for creating, shooting, and editing this amazing piece!

Executive Summary

WildCare is the oldest and largest wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in Oklahoma. Since our beginning in 1984, WildCare Foundation has admitted and provided care for over 55,000 injured and orphaned native wildlife.

Dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation, WildCare’s MISSION is simple: WildCare provides people a place to bring wildlife struggling to survive with the goal of releasing healthy animals back to the wild.

Since we began in 1984, the number of animals coming into our facility has grown exponentially, from just a few animals annually to more than 4,500. While WildCare’s skilled staff has met the challenge and the organization has been able to grow in a fiscally sound manner, the current facility is proving inadequate to keep up with this exploding demand. Additionally, the increase in the number of wild animals being “accidentally kidnapped”  compels us to expand our  educational opportunities to broaden  the public’s understanding of when to rescue versus when to reunite a young animal and the role citizens can play in their protection and survival.

In 2012 WildCare Foundation launched a capital campaign to erect a new purpose-built facility building that will serve as a state-of-art intake area and an education center where programs will be tailored not only for the public at large, but for students and volunteers from across the country who come to WildCare to develop their skills in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release.  Through this initiative, WildCare Foundation wants to play an active role in education and growing the next generation of wildlife rehabilitators that will work in Oklahoma and across the country.

$70,000  of the estimated $350,000 has already been donated to get this new facility up and running. Our goal is to have the funds raised by the end of 2012 and the new facility building completed by the end of 2013. Please commit to helping us build this important facility that will keep WildCare Foundation at the forefront of protecting and caring for Oklahoma’s wildlife.

The New Rescue and Education Center at WildCare: A New Facility That Will Help WildCare Release Native Wildlife Back To the Wild and Address Community Education Needs

With human encroachment on natural habitats a constant feature of our modern world, including central Oklahoma, WildCare Foundation is the first and many times the only place injured and orphaned wild animals can be taken. WildCare provides the public with a humane, legal way of dealing with wildlife in need that they encounter. At WildCare these vulnerable creatures receive a high standard of individualized care based on nationally recognized best practices and protocols for wildlife rehabilitation.

After a bobcat was hit by a car on Flood Street in Norman in January 2010, Norman Animal Welfare Officers brought the injured animal to WildCare because “the (city) animal shelter does not have the facility to house non-domestic animals.”

After a bald eagle crashed into the windshield of a semi traveling down the Indian Nations Turnpike in November 2010, a Pittsburgh County game warden brought the eagle to WildCare where it received emergency surgery and treatments for a broken leg, a fractured wing, liver damage and bruising to his head and body. We are proud to announce that after five months of care, the eagle was successfully released at Arcadia Lake on April 9, 2011.

On Saint Patrick’s Day 2010, two baby cottontails were delivered to WildCare where two staff members, specifically trained at the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association Conference in cottontail care, took these creatures, which are widely considered as important buffer prey species, but ones which are notoriously difficult to manage in captivity, into their knowledgeable care.

These three examples of intakes demonstrate how, since opening the doors in 1984, WildCare Foundation continues to deliver an important public service by providing a place where orphaned, distressed, injured, or displaced wild animals get a second chance to return and thrive in their natural habitats.

But this important work is being carried out in increasingly cramped premises at our location near Noble, Oklahoma.  The same facility where once only a few hundred animals were cared for on an annual basis now accommodates more than 4,500 yearly!

After careful planning, thorough analysis and broad consultations, in 2011 WildCare has launched a drive to erect a new building that will provide WildCare with a first-rate facility building. The new building would have sufficient space to allow the public room to learn their animal’s condition, to see where their animal will be treated, and to understand how significant their role was as the “first responder” for that animal’s rescue. With this new dedicated space for admissions, intake for wildlife rehabilitation, nurseries and for the much needed public and specialty education programs and displays they will know that they played an important part of giving a wild animal’s freedom back.

As the oldest and largest wildlife rehabilitation facility of its kind in Oklahoma, this new facility building is vital for WildCare to respond adequately to the rapid pace in growth in the numbers of wild animals and humans that have made it to the facility in recent years. WildCare needs additional space, dedicated care areas and specialty equipment a new facility building would provide.  More significantly, the new space would allow us to improve the quality of our education and specialist training programs for our volunteers, new rehabilitators, interns and staff members as well as for the public. Ultimately and most importantly the new facility building would enable WildCare to improve our ability to properly care for and return healthy rescued animals to their natural habitats.

Why a New Facility is Imperative?

  • Our small admission area and nursery is overwhelmed and extremely crowded. The current facilities are simply inadequate for optimum care for so many animals. It is a challenge for WildCare to accommodate the 4,500 plus animals and almost 3,000 human visitors now arriving at the foundation each year.
  • The tremendous influx of animals during the baby season means that WildCare is constantly stretched in its ability to appropriately respond to the numbers and types of animals brought into the facility. On a given day, a predator creature arrives often within minutes of its prey species. For example in the first few days following a severe wind and hail storm in Oklahoma City in the spring of 2012 WildCare received 300 injured and orphaned animals needing help. On any given day, predatory creatures arrive often within minutes of its prey species. Ideally, they should be housed in separate  areas but with our limited space this is often not possible. In limited space, WildCare must be creative in providing appropriate treatment and housing at the beginning of an animal’s stay so that the right treatment plan is launched to ensure the eventual release of as many of the intakes as possible. A new facility building will allow WildCare to create purpose-built nurseries to house different species separately reducing stress and possible disease transmission, and upping the chances of making timely releases. Most importantly, we would have space to accommodate the tremendous influx of animals during the baby season.
  • Only one small corner of the admission area (measuring  8’x6’) is available for educational information; this educational corner is located in a shared public space where incoming animal assessments are made, initial medical treatments are given, phone calls are received and visitor information is provided. Once an animal is rescued, we at WildCare want the public to understand the impact they have made in taking the first step of saving a wild animal’s life. We want to enlighten the community on what it takes to save and protect our unique wildlife. We want to educate visitors and make them feel proud of their actions and that the one life they held so briefly is in good hands with the best chance of being released back into the wild. But we do not have the space. Additional space is necessary!
  • Beyond providing information for visitors, a key long-term challenge for Wildlife rehabilitators is public education, in particular of children starting at an early age. Concerned citizens need a source of information on proper steps to take if they find an injured or orphaned wild animal. The new building’s space would serve as a center that would allow us to expand our education programs, thereby ultimately helping to improve the public’s understanding of the needs of rescued animals and the role we citizens can play in their protection and survival.
  • WildCare currently serves as a center of expertise for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation taking in interns recruited from applicants from around the country on an annual basis. The new Building will have dorm rooms to accommodate up to 4 interns. The foundation wants to expand our educational collaboration with students. We currently are involved with the OSU-OKC and Murray State veterinary technician program offering important hands-on experience to a new generation of animal care givers. We also work with the University of Oklahoma federal Work Study program providing students part-time work during the school year. In the current setting, WildCare struggles to find space for participants in these programs as well as for the 75 or so volunteers that clock more than 13,000 hours each year to further our mission. A new facility building will accommodate these dedicated individuals and the programs tailored for them.

A Brief Overview of WildCare

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation granted our first wildlife rehabilitation permit in 1984. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has since granted WildCare permits for wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife education, eagle rehabilitation and eagle exhibitor’s permits for migratory birds and eagles. WildCare received IRS 501(3)c status in 1995. Although licensed and heavily regulated by state and federal agencies, WildCare does not receive any government funding. The foundation is supported solely by donations from caring individuals and businesses.

Like so many of the leading wildlife rehabilitation facilities across the country, WildCare was born of a series of unplanned acts of rescuing wild animals in distress.

WildCare director and co-founder Rondi Large began what became her life’s work of animal rehabilitation when she starting saving injured and distressed wildlife near her home in central Oklahoma. Early on it was a songbird – a house sparrow. A little later, while still holding down a full-time job in the early 80’s as a manager of a Computer Aided Drafting department for an environmental firm, Large began taking rescued babies to work to keep up with the rigorous around-the-clock feeding schedule for newborns while fulfilling her professional responsibilities. Then one day with a menagerie of six baby birds, a litter of opossums and a litter of raccoons deposited behind her desk, a choice had to be made.  WildCare was the outcome of a decision to pursue a passion for wildlife rehabilitation, and, in the face of a dearth of wildlife rehab centers, a commitment not to turn a blind eye to wild animals in need. Twenty eight years after the decision was made, WildCare Foundation has taken in 52,459 animals. Unfortunately, the sad reality of wildlife rehab is that not all animals can be saved. But our commitment is to do our utmost to provide all incoming animals with a thorough health assessment, a high level of care and comfort, and providing them with sustenance, and, as is too often times the case, assisting them to ensure a smooth, dignified passing. Although this is the hardest part of our responsibility it does require a quiet and peaceful space away from the public’s eye.

WildCare is situated four miles east of Noble, Oklahoma on 7.5 acres of wooded area owned by WildCare. 5 acres holding our outside enclosures is protected by a perimeter fence for the animal’s safety. The facility building will be located on the additional 2 acres abutting the perimeter fence. At this time the facility consists of approximately 40,000 square feet of outdoor enclosures capable of housing all species of Oklahoma wildlife. These enclosures include flight areas for songbirds, a pond and flight for ducks and geese, and flights for raptors, including a 100’x60’x20’ flight space for eagles. WildCare is capable of housing mammals with special housing requirements like bobcats, raccoons, prairie dogs, and beavers in outdoor enclosures.  The current 2,500 square feet of indoor space was once our garage and porch, accommodates our nursery, kitchen and laundry, admissions, clinic, education area and office and is woefully inadequate!

WildCare Board

WildCare Board of Directors consists of three members, all volunteers performing their duties without compensation:

  • Rondi Large, B.A., Executive Director and Co-Founder
  • O.T. Sanders, M.S., Ph.D., Facility Director and Co-Founder
  • Joe Carter, DVM, Medical Director
  • Marlys Lipe, Ph.D.

Rondi M Large: Rondi Large, Executive Director, volunteers full time leading and managing the organization. Rondi is a native of Maine but has lived in Oklahoma for the past 31 years. She is co-founder of WildCare and holds a B.A. from University of New Hampshire, Keene State College. Rondi worked in civil and environmental computer aided drafting for 18 years before leaving the business world to establish and dedicate her efforts full time to directing the operations of WildCare. In addition, Rondi is former Advisory Board member of the Oklahoma State University-OKC Veterinary Technology Program.

O.T. Sanders: O.T. is co-founder of WildCare and holds a B.S. in Zoology from Oklahoma State University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

O.T. is retired after working 26 years in the diagnostic medical industry. Prior to entering the world of business O.T. was an Assistant Professor of Zoology at Brunswick Community College, GA  for one year and at North Carolina State University for 4 years. In addition O.T. served as an Assistance Chief of the Game Division of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife conservation for 3 years. O.T. Sanders assists with daily operations of WildCare and oversees the facility maintenance and construction needs.

Joe Carter, DVM: Dr. Carter is a 1984 graduate of the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine. He is owner of Oklahoma Equine Hospital in Goldsby, OK and a partner in McGee Street Animal Clinic in Norman, OK. Dr. J. Carter and his staff have been actively involved with WildCare since 2001 and provide needed medical services and supplies. Dr. Carter also serves as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Board.

Marlys Lipe is a Professor of Accounting at the University of Oklahoma. She earned her BA at Alma College (Alma, MI) and her MBA and PhD at the University of Chicago (PhD in accounting and behavioral decision theory).  She is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).  Marlys and her husband live in Noble, Oklahoma on a property with ponds.  They’ve owned pet ducks since 1997 and rescue domestic ducks and other fowl.  Marlys previously served on the Board of Directors of Duck Rescue Network, a nonprofit dedicated to helping people help ducks. Marlys and her husband have volunteered at WildCare for 10 years as our Waterfowl Team Leaders coordinating the release of injured and orphaned ducks and geese into suitable aquatic habitats.

WildCare’s Board of Directors is purposely small to ensure operational efficiency and keep the Foundation’s focus on animal rehab and welfare.  To date the board’s size and composition has proven effective to deliver on WildCare’s mission, while maintaining solid financial standing. The board convenes 3 times a year, but less-formal board meetings take place multiple times a year on an as needed basis.

Staff & Volunteers

In addition to the four non-paid working directors, WildCare is staffed by three salaried full time employees and six to seven paid seasonal employees. WildCare also participates in the University of Oklahoma Work Study program and employees three to four students annually in cooperation with the University. Moreover, WildCare is fortunate and very grateful to have as many as 75 volunteers throughout the year who contribute more than 13,000 hours annually to help feed and care for the animals, which at times, pour into the center.

WildCare in Numbers:  Why a New Building Project is Crucial

Between 1984-1992, WildCare took in 41 animals, an average of five animals on an annual basis.  Today, the foundation accepts more than 4,000 animals every year; Totaling 52,459 admissions since 1984. The following chart shows the number of admissions to WildCare by year from 1984 to 2011.

In 2011, 4,507 animals were admitted to WildCare, with the majority pouring into the center between April and September. While not open to the public for regular visitation, WildCare does receive a large number of human visitors bringing animals and attending our Events. In 2011, 2,799 humans visited the center. The following chart shows animal admissions and human guest by month for 2011.

In the busy months of summer an average of 26 people will enter the small corner of the admission area. They are so filled with pride that they have participated in the initial phase of the rescue. Their hearts have been touch by that one beating heart and they want to know that that animal is in the best trained hands with the best chance of survival. This is incredibly difficult to accomplish in the space as small as a closet.

Project Description

The new Rescue and Education Center at WildCare will be built on a two-acre tract of land deeded to the foundation and abuts to the existing fenced 5 acres. The building placement has been carefully designed to offer easy access for rescued animal delivery and for visitors making their way to WildCare, yet secluded from daily auto traffic along the county road. While the building’s frontage is being designed to welcome rescuers and visitors, the rear of the building is being carefully integrated into the existing sanctuary to maintain the appropriate atmosphere of a remote shelter where the rehabilitation process can successfully begin.

Ample room is being planned for public parking and for unfettered access for rescued animal delivery.

The new purpose-built structure will be a metal building erected on concrete foundations, well insulated with excellent central heat and air units to ensure comfort, but also proper ventilation to prevent spread of airborne disease and cross-contamination between sections of the complex. The building will be built as environmentally friendly as possible.

Floor Plan

The 5,200 square-foot ground floor will provide space for the following functions:

  • Public area for Intake, Reception and Education.
    • Admission area, where rescuers will be able to deliver animals in a timely and stress-free atmosphere. The area will provide for quick assessment of animal condition and allow for all processing activities to be carried out.
    • Public reception area will be designed to offer maximum access without disturbing the animals or caregivers. This area will offer views into three of the nurseries, the clinic and the adult medical area. Displays will showcase our accomplishments, our volunteers and our donor recognition wall.
    • The educational and training area will offer space for meetings, and volunteer and specialist courses. Screens will broadcast live cam views of sanctuary enclosures for visitors to experience the rehabilitation process underway in areas of the sanctuary that are not accessible to the public at large. These live cam views could also be accessed over the internet to link up with public school classrooms and specialists training centers.
    • Five individual nursery rooms: one for songbirds, one for small mammals, one for raccoons, one for large mammals, and one for raptors.
    • Medical clinic room for wound care and surgeries and a room for recovery and healing of adult animals with traumas
    • A purpose-built food preparation area including sinks, counters, and appliances appropriate for animal food preparation.
    • Laundry facility capable of handling 10 loads a day
    • Public parking area
    • Administrative office
    • Staff meeting area with computer and security equipment
    • Employee kitchen
    • Employee bathroom
    • 2 dorm rooms for interns
    • Closet and supply storage area
    • Septic system (probably an aerobic system)

Contribution Levels and Donor Recognition

Contribution Levels and Donor Recognition
The new Rescue and Public Education Center will be a community project that reflects the commitment of private individuals and corporations to preserving Oklahoma’s wildlife. WildCare will make sure this community effort is on display in highly visible donor recognition areas in the new facility. The  centerpiece will be a stunning donor wall where we will recognize all levels of donors contributing to this effort. Friends of WildCare Donation Levels are $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,500. Corporate Partners Levels are $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000.

Recognition opportunities for Corporate Partners

The board of WildCare Foundation is committed to working with donors to develop the most appropriate and effective forms of recognition for Corporate Partners levels.  Here we present some of the recognition opportunities:
Named Facility: The new Rescue and Education Center can be named to honor an individual or corporation Street

Named Rooms: Individual rooms at the new center that will be highly visible to all visitors and can by named to honor an individual or corporation.

Captured Video of the animals recovering in our rehab enclosures can be sponsored for highly visible promotion opportunities that reach the world.

The new Rescue and Education Center will be a community project that reflects the commitment of private individuals and corporations to preserving Oklahoma’s wildlife. WildCare will make sure this community effort is on display in highly visible donor recognition areas in the new facility.

In Closing

The vast challenges facing Oklahoma’s wildlife are immense. Through your generous donation toward the creation of the new Rescue and Education Center at WildCare you will be taking an active role in caring for the wildlife of Oklahoma. Through this new facility, WildCare can improve vastly on its mission of providing people a place to bring wildlife struggling to survive with the goal of releasing healthy animals back into the wild. Thanks to your contribution to this special fundraising campaign, the new Rescue and Educational Center will allow WildCare to:

• enable each “first responder” to feel the power of their actions to save one wild animals life

• better handle the thousands of wild animals being cared for and saved on an annual basis

• better utilize the large number of volunteers and care specialists ready to contribute their time and develop their expertise at WildCare

• create a place where growing community educational needs on Oklahoma wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation can be met in a superior manner.
We can’t build the Rescue and Educational Center at WildCare without you.
WildCare needs and respectfully seeks your support.


WildCare Foundation
7601 84th St.
Noble, Oklahoma 73068

“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” – Mother Teresa