The Pensacola area is rife with miles of beautiful, unspoiled shorelines, as well as protected woodlands, swamps, and wetlands. These traits of our little slice of paradise, along with our location on the Gulf Coast, contribute greatly to the unique and wondrous wildlife that we find here. Fortunately, for benefit of all the injured or orphaned animals, there is a place they can be helped. Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida is a nonprofit organization that works to provide appropriate care to injured or orphaned indigenous wildlife. They provide medical care and fostering during recovery, and rehabilitate and release when possible. Wildlife Sanctuary does not relocate animals from your yard or pick up animals. Dorothy Kaufmann, director states, “Our main goal is to rehab and release to give the animal a second chance. It is exciting to see them leave us because that means we have accomplished our goal.”
Wildlife that cannot be safely released is kept and cared for onsite. Among the many animals you will regularly see when touring the facility are Bald Eagles, hawks, pelicans, and a bobcat, to name only a few. There are outdoor flight cages for the many birds being cared for. The Sanctuary has seen many animal species ranging from hummingbirds and eagles to possums, raccoons, and bears – all of which were injured or lost a parent that cared for it. Wildlife is kept onsite to allow animals to adjust to temperatures, humidity, and sounds in the outdoor cages. Somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 animals are helped by the sanctuary each year.
The Wildlife Sanctuary of NWFL is open 365 days each year. The staff and volunteers are so dedicated to helping and caring for these creatures that they give boldly of their time. The sanctuary has a small staff and is dependent upon many volunteers to help with the volume of wildlife that is brought to them. All of the cages and aviaries have been crafted and donated by area volunteers. While there is no staff veterinarian, many of the local clinics donate their services. A small portion of their funding comes from the county. The rest comes through very generous individuals and businesses that have seen the tremendous work they do and the passion with which they do it. They frequently hold open houses and some fundraisers including a “Baby Shower” where supporters come with useful items. The open houses entertain and educate with fun and food while learning about the animals and their natural habitats and what is necessary to get them back home. 600 to 800 folks usually attend these open house events. To learn more about upcoming events find them online at pensacolawildlife.com or on FaceBook at Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida.
105 North “S” Street
Pensacola, FL 32505
Wednesday – Saturday: noon to 3:30 p.m. (donations accepted)
Group tours by appointment $3.00 per person (Child or Adult) &
groups of 15 or more people.
Drop off injured wildlife 7 days a week: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Q & A with Dorothy Kaufmann of Wildlife Sanctuary
In 1982, the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida began and has continued for 35 years to facilitate the caring for injured and orphaned wildlife. We also provide educational outreach to the community through tours, exhibits, and lectures. Any wild animal in need can be professionally and safely cared for by our facility, which is permitted by US Fish and Wildlife, Florida Fish and Wildlife, and USDA.
*What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Helping wildlife in need is very rewarding but so is helping the community. People call into the Sanctuary for help and advice about animals they have seen or found. I love when we can give information and insight for a conflict or situation involving wildlife. Anytime a conversation ends with both parties happy and one saying, “Oh thank you so much!” then you did something right (grin). Ongoing rewards are having Eagle Scouts want to do projects because they remember coming here when they were little and saw the animals, or young children and teenagers deciding to have birthday parties with supplies for the animals rather than personal gifts. Rewarding is feeling you have made a difference in someone’s life to make it better. I know it sounds corny but when you think of it…to have your efforts make a difference is really a good feeling.
*How did you become involved with Wildlife Sanctuary? In May of 1994 the Wildlife Sanctuary had a terrible fire. I knew two of the veterinarians who were very much involved in helping so I asked if they needed help. They rest is history. I started with the cutest baby songbirds and was hooked forever. First I was a volunteer, then Sanctuary Coordinator to Director…. I love this place, I love the people here and I feel lucky to be a part of what brings people and the environment together in our community.
*What have been some obstacles you have faced as an organization and some of your triumphs? The Wildlife Sanctuary has dealt with a building fire, lots of hurricanes, the BP oil spill, the 2012 flood bringing 3 feet of water into our building and 5 feet of water to our outdoor exhibits, and the 2014 flood brought 4 feet of water into our building and 6 feet to our outdoor exhibits. Rebuilding while remaining open for animal care has certainly been a challenge and a trust walk. Our community and supporters, our staff, past staff, volunteers, past volunteers, our board, our neighbors, you name them and they were all here to help. They gave their time, they gave supplies, they even brought us coffee and cookies. Our obstacles have always been met with triumphs because of our supporters.
Is Wildlife Sanctuary involved in any upcoming events? The Wildlife Sanctuary’s next event is WILDfest 2017, Saturday, October 7, 2017, from noon to 3:30 on the Sanctuary grounds. Everyone is welcome and there is Free Admission.
*What plans does Wildlife Sanctuary have for the future? Our future plans are to replace the roof on our facility and to replace the pelican deck. With the replacement of our pelican deck is the addition of a kiosk about brown pelicans. The roof and the pelican deck were damaged in past weather issues but have gotten worse recently.