VENICE - A non–profit breathing new life into sick or injured wildlife on the Suncoast debuted its new facility last weekend. The Wildlife Center of Venice provides a second chance for wildlife on the Suncoast.

"We're here to help the sick, injured or orphaned, but it's also to help educate the public on learning to live with wildlife," said Pamel Defauw, Director of Operations. The non-profit has been a lifeline since 2004, serving an estimated 5100 patients in 2018 alone.

Defauw said,"We've been able to help 50,000 animals since our opening in 2004. All birds, mammals, and reptiles. Right now, we're just on the cusp of baby season, so baby raccoons, we have baby squirrels, baby bunnies."

It all starts with you; locate an animal in distress and contact the non-profit's 24-hour assistance line: (941) 484-9657  Daytime & (941) 416-4967  Emergency.

 "We have a lot of retired nurses that volunteer their services to us. A lot of retired vet techs that offer their services," she said. Additionally, more than 100 volunteers make themselves available around the clock.

"They'll go out there, rescue the animal, bring it in for treatment with the hopes of releasing it back into the wild," she said. This month, The Wildlife Center of Venice  upgraded to a new 5–acre site across the street. It's blank canvas for now; the non-profit is depending on volunteers and donors to help create 8 exhibits that will mimic various habitats.

She said, "It's important with wildlife that's already stressed because we have them in captivity. We try to keep everything as natural as we can to their natural environment."

The Wildlife Center of Venice's mailing address: 925 N. Jackson Road, Venice, FL  34292.