About the Center

Founded to provide quality medical care, often on an emergency basis, to native wildlife

Wildlife Center main building

Founded in 1982, the Wildlife Center of Virginia is an internationally-recognized teaching hospital for wildlife medicine and clinical research. Since its founding, the Center has treated nearly 100,000 wild animal patients representing more than 200 species native to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The lessons learned from these wild animal patients have produced advances in veterinary science, improvements in conservation policy, and increased public understanding of better ways to share the world with our wild neighbors.

Baby cottontailVeterinary Medicine and Rehabilitation

Each year the Center provides state-of-the-art veterinary treatment to thousands of wild animals, with the goal of return to the wild. Animals are brought from across the state—many in need of surgery or critical care. The hospital regularly treats animals that have been hit by vehicles, poisoned by pesticides or lead, or have been orphaned or separated from their parents.

Professional Training

As a teaching hospital, the Wildlife Center offers hands-on training opportunities for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, wildlife rehabilitators, and wildlife education and outreach professionals. Through our annual Call of the Wild conference, and through online course offerings in our Wildlife Care Academy, professionals around the world teach, learn, and share best practices in wildlife medicine.

Public Education

The Center’s public education programs have carried the lessons learned from our work to millions of children and adults across Virginia, the US, and around the world. Education programs range from online classroom visits to tours and public events to live streaming chats with wildlife and conservation experts. Our streaming “Critter Cams” and moderated discussion allow fans worldwide to view and discuss bear cubs, hawks, owls, and other animals in real time.

Research and Policy

Issues affecting the health of wildlife also have an effect on the environment, and on all of us. As a frontline medical facility, the Center actively participates in research studies of national and international importance. Our research contributes both to scientific studies and to building public policy on issues like: lead in the environment, pesticides, and the management of outdoor pets and of wild bear and deer populations.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the Center open?

The Center’s clinic is open seven days a week year-round to admit and treat wild animals in need. The front desk is staffed daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; one of the Center’s staff veterinarians is on call after business hours for wildlife emergencies.

Is the Center open for tours?

As a veterinary hospital, the Center is not open to the public. The Center does offer open house tours in the spring, summer, and fall. These are offered at no cost, although reservations are required.

How large is the Center?

The Center owns approximately 20 acres just outside Waynesboro, Virginia. The Center backs up to the George Washington National Forest; the Center’s outdoor patient enclosures are located in the forest.

The Center’s building is about 5,700 square feet.

Who brings animals to the Center? And is there a charge?

Most of the Center’s patients are brought in by caring citizens. Other patients are brought in by animal-control officers, police officials, humane society representatives, and permitted wildlife rehabilitators. The Center’s veterinary services are provided at no charge.

Is the Wildlife Center a state agency?

The Wildlife Center is a private non-profit organization and is not an agency or affiliate of the federal, state, or local governments. The Center receives no government funding for its veterinary care of wildlife.

How many patients does the Center treat each year? What's the most common?

The Center admits about 4,000 wild animals each year—sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals from all across Virginia. Generally, the most common species are Eastern Gray Squirrels, Eastern Cottontail Rabbits, and Virginia Opossums. You read our annual reports for our lists of species treated each year.

What happens to animals at the Center?

The goal of the Center is to “treat to release” – to restore patients to health and return as many as possible to the wild. The Center provides state-of-the-art medical care for the sick and injured and sustained, quality foster care so that animals are returned to the wild with the ability to survive, and thrive, in their native habitats.    

Unfortunately, not all Center patients make it. Some die; others have such serious injuries that they are euthanized. A few non-releasable animals remain at the Center and serve as environmental ambassadors.

What's the annual budget for the Center?