Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Conservancy Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital to Expand



Dolph and Sharon von Arx Announce $500,000 Grant Match

Conservancy of Southwest Florida is expanding the existing wildlife hospital to accommodate the new outdoor wildlife rehabilitation area. The expansion of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital will enable the Conservancy of Southwest Florida to care for a greater number of animals within the wildlife rehabilitation facility by building new wildlife recovery areas, enhancing outside structures and continuing to provide exceptional care for the animals.

“As our organization embarks on the next half-century, the need for replacing and expanding our outdoor wildlife rehabilitation and recovery spaces is urgent,” said Lynn Slabaugh, board chair, Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “For many of our von Arx Wildlife Hospital patients, the majority of their recovery time takes place outside – in a more natural setting. Our current outdoor wildlife recovery areas are outdated and do not serve the growing number and variety of patients we see.”

During the expansion celebration at the Conservancy Nature Center, Dolph and Sharon von Arx announced the Conservancy’s receipt of a $500,000 state grant to help fund the project and they pledged a matching gift.

“The increase in growth and development in our region right now is negatively impacting Southwest Florida’s wildlife habitat,” said Dolph von Arx, conservancy supporter. “Sharon and I are committed to supporting the outdoor facilities to enable the Conservancy to further its mission of providing quality care to injured and orphaned wildlife.”

“The new hospital wing will make a vast difference in what we do within our facility because we will be able to care for a greater number of injured animals,” said Dr. P.J. Deitschel, veterinarian for Conservancy of Southwest Florida. “These improvements will help us continue our goal of rehabilitating animals and returning them to the wild.”

The expansion will also feature a new educational complex that will allow visitors to view the Conservancy’s permanent resident animals. Visitors will learn about the threats to native wildlife and what the public can do to protect and prevent wildlife injuries.

“In the new guest education area, visitors will come face-to-face with some of our ‘ambassador’ animals,” said Conservancy President and CEO Rob Moher. “These former patients are unable to be released due to the extent of their injuries. We are taking great care to create areas which replicate their natural environment as much as possible.”

Initial expansion plans are underway. Construction is set to begin this summer with an expected completion date in early 2016.


Conservancy Expansion Features include:

  • A new and enlarged shorebird recovery area
  • Two large outdoor rehabilitation structures to accommodate the increasing number of patients,
    including the ability to care for otters through the entire rehabilitation project
  • 10 small mammal recovery areas
  • Four permanent public viewing areas for Florida birds of prey, shorebirds, and other “animal ambassadors”
  • Design and installation of public educational materials
  • Improvements to infrastructure including water, power and caregiver access
  • Additional maintenance and storage facilities


Estimated Construction Cost $2 Million

  • $1.6 million raised to date
  • $1.1 million from generous donor support
  • $500,000 from a state grant
  • 80 percent of goal to date




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