The Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center Celebrates 50 Years of Wildlife Rehabilitation

For the past 50 years, the  Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center has been a beacon of hope for injured and orphaned wildlife in Southern California. Over the years, the center has seen thousands of patients come through its doors for treatment, many of whom were abandoned or injured by humans. From those with oiled feathers or fur, fishing line, and hooks, shot with arrows and bullets, and those hit by cars or orphaned, the center has served as an invaluable resource that saves many lives every year.

In honor of this achievement, the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center is hosting their Groovin’ with the Gulls Gala and Silent Auction Fundraiser on the 12th of November in beautiful Newport Beach. Tickets to the event are $150 per person or $1,200 for table sponsorship, and all proceeds will go towards the Center’s efforts for rescue, rehabilitation, and release of injured and orphaned native wildlife. The event will feature dinner, a silent auction of donated items, live music, fun, and much more.

Azi Sharif, the Gala Committee Chairperson, says the Wetlands & Wildlife Center will also feature some unique birds that have been rescued, rehabilitated, and successfully released back to their habitats.

“It has been incredible to see these beautiful animals cared for by such a dedicated team of staff, technicians, and volunteers,” Sharif shares. “I have been so inspired that I decided to paint and feature some of these special wildlife species as a part of the FashWand Wildlife Jewels® Collection. I will be revealing sneak peeks from this new collection at our upcoming Gala and will be sharing their stories, art, and fashion designs inspired by them. We will also be sharing the causes of their injuries as well as what each and every one of us can do to help protect our wildlife neighbors.”

“The center is a 501(C)3 non-profit facility that survives on generous donations,” says Debbie McGuire, the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center Executive Director. “It was established to provide care for native wildlife and to educate the general public about wildlife and their habitat.”

Debbie explains that this nongovernmental facility is staffed with licensed volunteer veterinarians, trained wildlife technicians, and volunteers who keep it going. It can care for 400 birds and mammals at a time, with an emergency capacity of 1,000. The center is also 1 of only 2 permitted hummingbird rehabilitation facilities in all of Orange County, CA. Debbie says more than 600 hummingbirds come in annually with a release rate higher than the national average.

From 1990 to date, Debbie has dedicated most of her time to caring for these endangered birds and other wildlife species. This journey began when an oil tanker, the American Trader, punctured its hull and spilled over 400,000 gallons of crude oil off the coast of Huntington Beach. Over 4,000 birds suffered from this spillage, and only 15% survived despite receiving treatment at a makeshift facility.

In response to that, Debbie and a group of like-minded individuals began taking steps toward providing a permanent facility capable of responding to the wildlife injured in future toxic spills and other interactions with people. Their efforts paid off in March 1998 when the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center opened its doors. Since then, the team has treated hundreds of thousands of birds and mammals, educated the community, and offered intensive training to qualified volunteers.

“The Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center is only able to stay open through generous donations from the public,” Debbie explains. “We count on our partnerships with organizations, businesses, and individuals like you.” You can contact Azi Sharif at [email protected] to support the center’s fundraising endeavors and sponsorship opportunities.

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