Ixtoc was an exploratory oil well being drilled in the Gulf of Mexico. On June 3rd, the well suffered a blowout resulting in one of largest oil spills in history. As a result of this disaster, a group of 100 volunteers were trained to care for any wildlife impacted by the oil spill. Amazingly, no wildlife were affected but the group formed Texas Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in order to continue their mission of promoting environmental conservation through public education and rehabilitation and release of Texas wildlife.
At first, TWRC operated with a telephone recording directing people with injured wildlife to a trained rehabilitator in their area. These wildlife specialists cared for all animals in their own homes. Being the first organization in Houston to provide services for injured wildlife, it wasn’t long before rehabilitators became overwhelmed with the number of animals requiring help. Rehabilitators were burning out and volunteers were leaving.
In the midst of all the chaos, a very determined volunteer, Vivian Steele, decided things had to change. Vivian had a vision of a wildlife center with a great location, a regular veterinarian, and excellent training for its volunteers. That vision began to materialize with the help of other like-minded volunteers.
TWRC opened its first Wildlife Shelter and Education Facility in a renovated trailer behind the Town & Country Mall. This became an opportunity for the public to become more aware of the increasing need for wildlife rehabilitation, and to appreciate the ultimate goal of releasing healthy animals back to their natural habitat.
TWRC secured its first Shelter veterinarian, Dr. Fred Soifer, a highly respected veterinarian with his own private practice. He was the veterinarian for the Houston Zoo, a consultant for animal care at AstroWorld, a consultant for the aquatic park in Galveston, and he also cared for the animal mascots of the University of Houston and Rice University. That same year, TWRC was the first wildlife shelter in Texas to receive accreditation from the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council.
TWRC was growing and needed to find a larger, more permanent facility. A location was found in the Memorial area on Wycliffe Drive, which allowed for the expansion of onsite wildlife services, the engagement of more volunteers, and ultimately the ability to help more wildlife.
Once again, TWRC had outgrown its facility and a search was started for a new location that could provide more space for staff and volunteers, the rapidly expanding onsite animal care programs, holding training classes, and unlimited parking. In addition, it was hoped that the next move would also offer expansion opportunities in the same location. In October, TWRC moved into their current location on Hammerly Blvd. and became TWRC Wildlife Center.
TWRC’s mission included a stated responsibility to develop environmental education programs for adults and children so that they could learn how to live in harmony with their environment and wildlife. To meet this mission of providing wildlife education for the community, additional space was rented for the TWRC Wildlife Education facility. This allowed TWRC to work with corporations, scouts, and many other groups looking for volunteer service opportunities, especially those related to ecology and the environment. It was also used as a staging area to prepare for the many outreach opportunities in which they participate.
In July TWRC opened an intake facility in The Woodlands on the Spring Creek Greenway, across from the Montgomery County Nature Preserve, in a county-owned building, with Montgomery County Commissioner support. Fifteen months later, the county needed their facility to staff security for the preserve, resulting in TWRC’s departure.
TWRC closed the Woodlands facility. The county needed their facility to staff security for the preserve, resulting in TWRC’s departure.
TWRC opened up its Baby Squirrel Program at the Hammerly location.