Conservancy of SWFL to begin $2 million expansion

Published: Updated:

NAPLES, Fla.- The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is seeing an increase in the number of animals they treat each year. Now, a multimillion expansion will help even more animals.

WINK News saw two owls as they were being treated at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital on Wednesday. One was a barred owl that was found in someone’s backyard. It was weak and could not blink from the ulcers it had in both eyes.

“They need the intensive care inside the hospital and they also need intensive care once they come out to develop those skills, and you know fly again, so that they really can survive in the wild,” said veterinarian PJ Deitschel.

The hospital was also rehabbing a great horned owl that was weak. But until another animal is released from the hospital, that owl is being caged inside because of limited space.

“Our shorebird enclosure and pool area, it can’t keep up with the number of animals that we get in anymore,” said Joanna Fitzgerald, director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital.

“When you start seeing hundreds, and for us it’s thousands, it’s 3,000 a year, you have to expand your facilities,” said Deitschel.

In July, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will do just that with a $2 million expansion.

Deitschel said, “what we’re going to see are enclosures that are bigger, better designed, are safer for the animals.”

The upgrade will help treat animals, like otters, that staff had to send to other facilities in the past.

“We’re gonna be able to take care of them now and improve what we found with the reptiles with the water turtle and otter pond,” said Fitzgerald. “So it’s just everything meeting the needs that we haven’t been able to meet for a while.”

The conservancy was just approved for a $500,000 state grant to help with the expansion. The majority of the money was raised or donated.

The expansion is expected to be complete in January or February of 2016.

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