Plans are unfolding to open an All-Ireland wildlife rehabilitation and teaching hospital; the first of its kind in the country. The hospital will have the facility, expertise and capacity to care for and rehabilitate Ireland’s native wildlife.
Currently, wildlife in Ireland needing care rely on a small number of individuals and organisations, such as the Kildare Animal Foundation Wildlife Unit. In contrast the UK has five large dedicated wildlife hospitals and a minimum of 100 smaller centres and sanctuaries.
While there will be seasonal trends in the patients admitted it is expected that the hospital will be busy year round. Wildlife accepted by the hospital will be triaged and treated, referred to species-specific rehabilitators or released.
Wildlife care would not be the only purpose of this new facility, where focus would also be on education and research. As an important element of the protection of wildlife, education will be provided in the hospital itself but will also be supplemented externally with courses, lectures and workshops. This will include the opportunity to earn professional development credits. Students, researchers and work experience students could also avail of opportunities to undertake research.
Initially the hospital will be supported by five paid staff including an Office Manager and a Veterinary Nurse Animal Manager. In addition to this there is hoped to be a number of volunteers, approximately 16 of which will be full-time. Along with wildlife care facilities there will be a visitor centre with a shop, library, laboratory classroom and more.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland (WRI), promoter of the hospital, is a not-for-profit NGO that represents wildlife rehabilitators and the welfare and conservation of wildlife in Ireland. WRI has contacted a number of organisations who could benefit from the hospital and may wish to form a social partnership. Organisations include those that work with young people. Volunteering to care for wildlife can help youths and at-risk groups with their own educational and personal development.
The projected cost of development is expected to be no more than three million euro and the aim is to establish a self-sustaining social enterprise partnership. WRI seeks government and EU funding and social partnership grant aid along with commercial and philanthropic support.
Want to know more? The Wildlife Rehabilitation and Teaching Hospital website is currently under construction however you can find out more and make contact here.
Thank you to Chris Budde-Petch for providing the information about the hospital and to Dan Donoher for the photographs.