First Ever Wild Animal Care Facility Opens in the District

Baby hummingbird photo
Baby hummingbird recuperating courtesy of citywildlife

From a press release:

For the first time in its history, the nation’s capital has a licensed, professionally staffed veterinary facility dedicated to helping wild animals. City Wildlife expects their new facility at 15 Oglethorpe Street, NW, to handle as many as 1,200 orphaned, injured, and ill wild animals the first year. The center opened on July 1. Among the patients they have already rescued are:

o An Osprey who was struck by a truck on the Frederick Douglass Bridge, treated, and reunited with his family group;
o A sick pregnant squirrel, who gave birth to four babies while in City Wildlife’s care and was cured and released with a nest box for her new family; and
o A juvenile Ruby-Throated Hummingbird who was dying of starvation until the center nursed him back to health and prepares to send him to an environment with abundant nectar-producing flowers.

“It’s ironic that our city, which boasts three animal shelters, a low-cost veterinary hospital, and a low-cost spay/neuter clinic, has never had a facility capable of caring for wild animals,” points out Anne Lewis, City Wildlife’s president. “That’s especially true when you consider that one-quarter of all the calls coming in to the main D.C. animal shelter are about wildlife. We believe we have filled an important — and long neglected — gap in the city’s otherwise exemplary animal welfare services.”

City Wildlife is open every day from nine a.m. to five p.m. and accepts injured, ill, and orphaned wild animals from members of the public as well as from the city’s animal care and control officers. A wildlife rehabilitator and part-time wildlife veterinarian administer physical examinations, fluid therapy, parasite treatments, wound management, fracture stabilization, medications, and other treatments as required. The goal in treating each patient is to return it to the wild.

“As you’d expect, wild animals in Washington frequently come into conflict with the urban environment,” notes City Wildlife’s clinic director Alicia DeMay. “They are hit by cars, attacked by pets, and poisoned. Babies are left helpless when their nests are destroyed or their parents are killed. These injured and orphaned animals need a place to receive care and heal, and the residents who are trying to help them deserve a convenient and professional rehabilitation facility like City Wildlife.”

City Wildlife accepts all manner of wild birds — both species that reside in the city and migrants that pass through — as well as native reptiles, amphibians, and most small mammals, such as chipmunks, rabbits, and squirrels. The center does not currently rehabilitate deer or species prone to carry rabies: raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bats, and skunks.

Those interested in learning more about City Wildlife or contributing towards the rehabilitation center can visit, write to [email protected], or call 202-882-1000.

17 Comment

  • ok, I’ll say it… why save a squirrel? Even a preggers squirrel.

  • Since they aren’t taking rabies vector species and you cannot trasport rabies vector species over a state line, they are ensuring that all those injured wildlife are killed instead of being treated. Previously, non-vector wildlife were driven over the border to a facility for treatment so they really just took business away from a Maryland operation and are still ignoring the one group of animals the district couldn’t treat/release.

    • It does say ‘currently’ not treating, so I’m hopeful for future developments there.

    • As a Ph.D. biologist working in a public health-related field, I actually support their current stance of not dealing with rabies vector species. The risk to human workers is too high for bites when collecting injured rabies vector species. If bitten, you’d have to start post-exposure prophylaxis and then sacrifice the animal anyway to run tests to see if it carried rabies. The risk/reward balance doesn’t seem very good. The animal could be captured, removed from the public space, and observed for rabies symptoms prior to treatment, but if it’s seriously injured it might not last long enough to show symptoms.

      • But the WHS already DOES collect the injured animal and transport it to WHS and have it ‘sacrificed’ – I’m confused about how NOT treating the animal protects any of those employees from rabies exposure.

        • I’d imagine the process for collecting an animal if you’re going to treat it allows more opportunity for biting than the process for collecting an animal if it’s going to be euthanized. I don’t know what procedure WHS follows when collecting, say, a possibly rabid raccoon, but I bet they are very, very careful.

          • This also applies to abandoned infants. They are also put down because there are not facitilies to rehabilitate them and release them. Find a batch of baby racoons? Know that calling WHS means they are going to be euathanised.

      • Thx for explaining that.

    • I don’t know if a hurt/injured/orphaned wildlife should be called “business” to non profit groups working hard and not making a profit. There are very strict rules with handling rabies vector species.

  • So happy to hear about this!

  • That is awesome. I have come across so many sick/hurt animals that I wished I could help over the past years when the Humane Society couldn’t help. Hopefully the next time I find one I can bring them there.

  • This is wonderful news. Thank you for all you do and though I hope I will not have to bring in any injured animals, I am glad to know you are there!

  • OMG that baby hummingbird is so tiny! I looked down at my fingernail just to get a scale of reference. So cute.

  • I volunteer with this group and they do really good work. In addition to the rehab facility, they work with building owners to reduce the number of migratory birds that get killed by flying into glass windows and they do a lot with relocating bird nests that are in dangerous locations. Glad to see the facility is open now!

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