Never attempt to care for a wild animal

By Joanna Fitzgerald | Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

Three raccoons were among the 93 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a brown thrasher, a black-crowned night-heron, a northern flicker, five chimney swifts, a Virginia opossum, and a Florida red-bellied turtle.

Baby raccoons sleeping in a basket

The three raccoons were brought to the wildlife hospital after having been cared for by a family for seven days. The raccoons had fallen from their nest in a tree. Hospital staff gathered all of the information on how the raccoons had been cared for by the family and settled them in a large enclosure in the mammal room in the hospital.

When there is a risk of exposure due to a member of the public handling a rabies vector species such as raccoons, the Collier County Department of Health assesses the risk and determines the appropriate course of action. In this situation, the health department determined there was no exposure so the raccoons did not need to be euthanized and tested for rabies.

Please, if you find an animal in distress call the wildlife hospital before taking action — hospital staff can provide information that will ensure your safety and the safety of the animal. If immediate action is required, take precautions before handling the animal — wear gloves and utilize protective equipment such as towels, safety glasses, etc. needed to keep yourself safe.

Never attempt to care for a wild animal. The best chance for a full recovery is that the animal receive professional medical attention from a wildlife veterinarian and licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Also, keep in mind it is illegal to possess injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife without appropriate state and federal permits. These laws are in place to ensure wildlife receive care from professionals who understand their specific nutritional, medical, and husbandry requirements. Our goal is to assist injured, sick, and orphaned animals so, once healthy, they can be returned to the wild.

Related video from May 1, 2015 | Subscribe for more videos

Recent Releases

A mourning dove, a peninsula cooter, four eastern cottontails, a yellow-bellied slider, two Florida softshell turtles, a red-shouldered hawk, a red-bellied woodpecker, two gopher tortoises, a magnificent frigatebird, two Florida red-bellied turtles, four northern mockingbirds, four fish crows, two burrowing owls, a Cooper’s hawk, a brown thrasher, two double-crested cormorants and three brown pelicans were released this past week.

Opportunities to Help

There are many ways to remain engaged and support the Conservancy. Become a member, donate and visit our website at Learn about the Conservancy’s work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239–262–2273 or see



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Conservancy of SWFL

Conservancy of SWFL

Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of and forever.