We've been rehabilitating wild animals for many years, from inspectors originally keeping wildlife casualties in their back gardens to the state-of-the-art wildlife centres we now run.
How many RSPCA wildlife centres are there?
We have four:
Together, they fulfil our commitment to provide specialist care for the rehab of wildlife throughout England and Wales.
Are these the only wildlife rescue facilities used?
No, lots of the RSPCA animal centres and branches also take in sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. We take animals to a number of other wildlife rehabilitators around the country as well.
What facilities do they have?
They have veterinary surgeries with specialist equipment, isolation cubicles and a variety of paddocks, pools, pens and aviaries to accommodate the many types and species of wild animal they admit.
What animals do they take in?
Wildlife centres’ admissions are about 76 per cent birds, 23 per cent mammals and one percent everything else!
Between them in 2011, the centres took in over 16,639 wild animals.
From 2005 to 2011 they admitted 105,000 animals of 341 different species! Hedgehogs were the most common, with over 11,000 admitted during this time.
Are they all released back into the wild?
About 40 per cent are released, but this varies depending on the type of animal. For instance, nearly 75 per cent of our mallards are released, but only 26 per cent of our sparrowhawks.
What happens to animals after they’re released?
The wildlife centres invest a lot of time and effort in trying to find out what happens to the animals they release - they do a lot of research to try and find out where they go. This research uses methods such as ringing to identify birds, which has helped us understand how long some birds survive and how far they travel. Gulls released from our centres have been seen as far north as Spitzbergen and have reached the west coast of Africa!
We also use radio or satellite tracking to follow the animals after release. This involves fitting a transmitter to an animal so we can track its progress. We've tracked six common seals using satellites and have followed many other animals using the more traditional radio transmitters.
What happens to animals that can’t be released?
Animals that are so badly injured that they have a poor chance of survival or are unable to survive in the wild are put to sleep. We don’t think wild animals should be kept in captivity because it’s so difficult to meet all of their needs sufficiently. Our experienced staff, often in consultation with a vet, makes this decision as quickly as they can so the animal suffers as little as possible.
Can the centres provide advice on the care of wildlife casualties?
The wildlife centres, together with the wildlife department, have developed wildlife rehabilitation protocols, based on their knowledge, experience and detailed research. These describe the best husbandry - ways to care - for these animals and are updated as science and knowledge progress. Wildlife rehabilitation is very tricky and best left to experts, so we would always recommend that if you find a wild animal that you think is injured or orphaned, you hand it to an experienced rehabilitator.
Working at our wildlife centres
You can either apply for a job as a wildlife assistant or volunteer to help out. Wildlife assistant posts are usually advertised on our website or in the local press, and volunteer information can be found by contacting your nearest wildlife centre.