Wildlife Encounters: Kindergarten - 4th Grade
Lesson 4: Rehabilitation
  • Key Words

Wildlife Rehabilitation vs. Wildlife Medicine

Wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife medicine may sound similar, but they are not the same thing! They have the same goal of caring for wild animals. However, they have very different ways that they do this. See below to read about these differences!

Wildlife Rehabilitation:


Individual Animal

  • In wildlife rehabilitation, people focus on individual animals. The goal is to care for every animal until it can be released back into the wild. Decisions are made based on what is the best way to fix each animal's health problems.


  • Wildlife rehabilitation is done in a facility or building. Animals are kept in cages and pens until they recover from their injuries and illnesses. All the supplies to take care of the animals are in that facility. Often, the animals are brought to the facility by people in the community that find them. Animals may live in rehabilitation facilities for months until they are healthy again.
diseased turtle

Disease Monitoring

  • People working in wildlife rehabilitation are not looking for a specific disease. They sound the alarm if a disease is found. Wildlife rehabilitators may be the first people to see that animals have a disease when the animals are brought to them for care.

Wildlife Medicine:

flock of geese


  • In wildlife medicine, the goal is to take care of the whole population of animals. Decisions on treatment and care are made based on what is best for the most animals, not what is best for each animal.
working in the field


  • In wildlife medicine, animals are treated in the field. The field is the natural habitat of the animal, and may be far away from human homes and buildings. Scientists and veterinarians must bring all their supplies with them. They may also spend a long time trying to find the animals they need to take care of. Animals are released right after they are treated or tested for health problems.

Disease Surveillance

  • People working in wildlife medicine know which disease they are trying to find, but they do not know which or how many animals have it. They test many different wild animals to find which ones have the disease.


Why Rehabilitate