RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Wildlife Center is no longer accepting new animal patients, for the first time since it opened in 2013, due to an unexpected termination of the property lease.

The sudden lease termination has caused the owner and volunteers to pack up and quickly find a new home for animals in need.

“It is gut-wrenching because this is our busiest time of the year. You know all of the animals are having their babies and the storms. We are needed this time of year, so our heart goes out to the animals and the rescuers,” said the founder of the Richmond Wildlife Center, Melissa Stanley.

Stanley opened the center nine years ago. Since then, there has been only one paid staff member while all volunteers and veterinarians spend their free time helping the non-profit.

While they are currently closed to helping new animals in need, a few animals on the property have made the center their long-term home.

A possum named Rosalie and a black vulture named Archie have both lived in an enclosed manmade structure since 2020. Archie spends his days playing with rubber bones and plastic cups while Rosalie is spoiled with grapes for lunch. Both have been content in their ways.

“Having that place that they can immediately go to and they know that animal will get the very best care – that makes you feel good inside knowing that you are leaving that animal in good hands,” Stanley said.

The center posted about the sudden eviction on Facebook and received numerous donations as a result. Their GoFundMe page has already raised over $88,000 in just three days, helping them reach their goal of $1.27 million.

“That would include the land, all of the potential zoning permit fees and applications, wells, electricity, the building, and many more animal cages so that we can help all of those animals who need us,” Stanley said.

With this being the closest Wildlife Center within two hours, Stanley and the center volunteers are currently looking at other properties to ensure the greater Richmond area has a safe place to bring wildlife.

“This is more than just about the animals,” Stanley said. “We are a community, and we are a family.”

For information on how you can help the Richmond Wildlife Center, you can check out their Facebook page.