GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. — A Gadsden County wildlife rehab center is fighting to keep its doors open so it can continue giving hurt and orphaned wild animals a second chance.
Saint Francis Wildlife Refuge sits on 35 acres of forest, fields and ponds in Quincy. You can find everything from hummingbirds to deer and bald eagles.
Most of the animals are brought in by people concerned about the animals' welfare, but the refuge is not actually open to the public.
"We want to make sure the animal human contact is kept to a minimum because we want the animals to stay wild," said Teresa Stevenson, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitator.
So after they have healed, these animals can be released back into the wild. The refuge cares for about 3,000 animals a year. It plays a role in public health and safety by keeping sick or injured animals away from humans.
This past August, the refuge was in danger of losing its funding from the City of Tallahassee for next year.
"If we lose the funding, that will leave a hole we can't fill and we'll be faced with closing our doors," said Pat Simmons, Board President at St. Francis Wildlife Refuge.
The refuge board and their supporters went to the Tallahassee commission meeting to advocate for the refuge. They're now funded through 2020, but after that, the future of the refuge hangs once again in the balance, as do the jobs that the staff says they love.
"I love animals, I want to care for them as much as possible and release them back into the wildlife and ease their suffering and pain," said Kayla Gainer-Edwards, Wildlife Technician.
If you'd like to donate money to the Saint Francis Wildlife Refuge, you can do so on their website. Supply donations like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, animal food and bedding can be brought directly to the refuge and they are always looking for volunteers.
For more information, click here.