41 years ago, the Wildlife Medical Clinic began operation at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital. While the program started small, in the following years the WMC would grow to treat over 2,000 patients every year! As the clinic grew, so too did the need for space and resources to house and treat our patients. In the summer of 2018, the Wildlife Medical Clinic was lucky enough to move from our space in the basement of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital to an adjacent building with space adapted specifically to our needs. This move has provided some much-needed space and allowed our program to continue its expansion, taking in more patients and training more students than ever before!
In the spirit of expansion, the Wildlife Medical Clinic is happy to announce our newest project: a new Ambassador Residence! Previously, our ambassador animals had been housed in smaller flight cages near the Basic Science Building on the Vet Med campus. This space met their needs during the warm months but required indoor housing during cold or adverse weather events. Just as the medical portion of the Clinic has expanded, so too has our ambassador team! In addition to our 5 birds of prey, we currently have an opossum and three reptiles which help round out our animal ambassador team. With new animals being added and more opportunities for public outreach, we needed to create a space that would facilitate all of the needs for all of our ambassador team.
This brings us to the construction of our new residence. This new space will be located right outside the Wildlife Medical Clinic’s new location on Hazelwood Drive, across the street from the University of Illinois Small Animal Clinic. This space will be used as year-round housing for all the animals in our ambassador animals. This new space provides shelter in all weather conditions, larger housing allocations for each ambassador, and we will have an amphitheater-like space which can help to further expand our public outreach program.
After years of work planning and revising plans of this project, the ground was finally broken on July 25, 2019! We anticipate the project to be complete this fall. This effort would not be possible without the support of the generous donors to the Wildlife Medical Clinic.
Our Clinic honors a three-fold mission to provide veterinary care to native wildlife, educational opportunities for our student volunteers, and to support conservation efforts through public outreach. Without the support of our community, we would not be the clinic we are today.
By Mary Kate Feldner, Class of 2021