About CROW

Our Mission:

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital and visitor education center dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education, and conservation medicine.

CROW’s Visitor Education Center (VEC) offers a behind-the-scenes look into CROW’s animal care through live camera feeds, interactive displays, and daily presentations by students, staff and volunteers.

Each year, CROW cares for more than 6,000 wildlife patients including more than 200 different species of sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife in its veterinary hospital, which is one of the nation’s leading rehabilitation facilities for native and migratory wildlife.

CROW offers educational fellowships and externship programs for undergraduate students, and internship programs for veterinarian graduates.

Volunteers are the cornerstone of CROW and each year more than 200 volunteers dedicate thousands of hours helping rescue, rehabilitate, and release wildlife.

What Sets CROW Apart

CROW accepts all native wildlife in need of care including migratory birds and sea turtles.

CROW employs a full-time veterinarian with several years’ experience working with wildlife and experienced wildlife rehabilitators.

CROW offers immediate on-site critical care such as pain management, surgery, physical therapy, and radiography, while also providing for long-term rehabilitation.

CROW offers a student program unique in its scope, with opportunities for college-age or older students at all levels of learning — including veterinary interns.

CROW has a high case-load with a rich variety of wildlife species not encountered at many other rehabilitation centers.

CROW has served Southwest Florida’s wildlife for over 50 years.

History of CROW

In 1968, shortly after the Sanibel Causeway was built, islander Shirley Walter found a Royal Tern which had been hit by a car on the causeway. Finding no services available for injured wildlife, Shirley took the bird to her Sanibel home. A small group of volunteers joined Walter, and CROW was born. In the first year, 500 distress calls were answered. From the beginning, the late Dr. Phyllis Douglass provided veterinary assistance. Wildlife medicine was in its infancy in the 1960’s so Shirley, the volunteers, and Dr. Phyllis all learned together, with the network of rehabilitators around Florida.

In 1972 CROW incorporated as a non-profit organization, receiving their 501 (c) (3) IRS exemption in 1973. The name was Shirley’s idea – she wanted a bird’s name, a W for wildlife, and since crows are considered as one of the most intelligent species – the CROW acronym was born.

Forced to close in 1976 by new city ordinances, CROW existed in name only for one year. In 1977, the late Adelaide Cherbonnier offered her Captiva home as a temporary location until CROW was given 10 acres of the Sawbridge tract along Sanibel Captiva Road. With a $35,000 mortgage to build its facility, CROW won city approval and the wildlife clinic became operational in 1981.

 An interview with CROW Founder, Shirley Walter