The mission of the Living Desert’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Program is to provide care to injured or orphaned native wildlife with the goal of eventual release into natural desert habitats. We strive to serve as a reliable source of information about desert species and to empower our community to coexist with wildlife.
47900 Portola Ave. Palm Desert CA 92260
Hours of Operation
June – Sept 7:00 am to 1:30 pm
Oct – May 8:00 am to 1:30 pm
$5 recommended intake fee.
How do you know that a wild animal needs rescuing?
Not every animal that is on its own, can’t fly or climb, or seems to be in the wrong place, is in need of help. If you are uncertain that the animal is truly orphaned or critically injured, it is better left alone. Some situations that appear to be problems may instead be normal behaviors or stages of development. Sometimes it is just too dangerous for you to intervene or it might be more harmful for the animal. Call us for a consultation.
What should I do with a truly orphaned or injured native animal?
For legal and humane reasons, it is advisable to not care for an orphaned or injured native wild animal yourself. State licensed wildlife rehabilitators are your best bet for a legal, humane and successful outcome. In the Coachella Valley, The Living Desert and the Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center (760-347-2647) in Indio are your best choices. Outside of the Valley, see the California Department of Fish and Game’s directory of currently licensed rehabilitators by clicking here. Before transporting your injured or orphaned wild animal to a wildlife rehabilitator, call for the best advice on capturing and handling during the transport.
You’ve found a wild animal that may need help- now what?
If you find an animal but you’re not sure what it is, here are some links to help:
- Bird Identification: http://www.whatbird.com/
- Reptile/Amphibian Identification: http://www.californiaherps.com/
- Mammals: http://www.livingdesert.org/animal-category/north-america/
Desert Tortoise Adoption Program
It is a program where captive-bred desert tortoises are adopted out to families and individuals. This program was started in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Game, when the desert tortoise was listed as threatened. Click here to learn more!
The Native Wildlife Conservation Program (NWCP) mainly receives animals from within the Coachella Valley, but occasionally also from the high desert and mountainous areas nearby. Recently while driving on Highway 74, one of The Living Desert’s own zookeepers found a Western Screech Owl in distress. She brought the owl to the NWCP for evaluation and treatment.
The Western Screech Owl is one of the smallest owl species in the country, topping out at just half a pound. They are found year-round in the Western United States, usually in areas that are forested. During the daytime, Western Screech Owls rest in tree cavities, blending in perfectly with the tree bark around them due to their feather coloration. By night, they hunt anything they can catch, including rodents, birds, bats, fish, and insects. A determined screech owl can even catch a small rabbit!
Upon arrival at The Living Desert, the screech owl was lethargic and had a visibly injured right eye. The keeper reported that she found the owl in the road, so it is likely that the owl was hit by a car. Veterinary staff determined that the owl did not have any broken bones and administered fluids and vitamins to help stabilize the bird. Eyedrops were also prescribed for the affected eye.
The owl began to perk up and quickly became feisty and alert. Rehab staff hand-fed the owl until it could feed itself again. The pupil in the right eye started to look more normal and the owl could perch well and navigate its surroundings.
Patients at the NWCP progress from indoor housing to outdoor enclosures as they heal and recuperate. Once the owl was feeding itself, it was moved to an outdoor flight space to reacclimate to the temperatures, stretch its wings, and be tested for the ability to catch live prey. The owl’s vision, hunting skills, and movement all appeared normal, so rehab staff released the owl in the mountains up Highway 74! Upon release, the owl flew to a tree and blended into the bark perfectly to rest until night came to hunt.
This owl was found in the winter months, at nighttime. This story is a reminder to always be on the lookout for wildlife, regardless of the time of day or season. As we head into another busy season helping animals, please remember to call or email the NWCP or your local rehabilitator with any wildlife concerns you may have. Thank you for helping wildlife!