Severely damaged by flooding, Richmond Wildlife Center working to stay afloat

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2 animals died as a result of weekend flooding

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Wildlife Center, home to dozens of domestic and wildlife animals, was hit hard by high floodwaters that hammered Central Virginia over the weekend.

The organization’s director, Melissa Stanley, told 8News she is trying to keep the volunteer center afloat but is facing several challenges. She told 8News reporter Talya Cunningham that all of the animal cages at the Richmond Wildlife Center flooded over the weekend from heavy downpours.

Sadly, a cottontail rabbit drowned on Saturday and on Monday, a wood duck broke its neck after slipping on algae.

“I’m frustrated and defeated,” cried Stanley, who was brought to tears while talking about the loss of her animals. “It’s more than just what happened, I should have been better prepared for this.”

Devoted to her furry friends, Stanley says it’s her desire to nurse the wildlife center back to health. More than 40 animals are housed at the center including squirrels, muskrats, chipmunks, possums, turtles, ducks, chickens, pigeons, rabbits and more.

Stanley spends her days providing a better life for wildlife across Central Virginia but says 2020 has been a rough year. The non-profit was forced to stop its volunteer program as a result of the pandemic, which has put a lot of work on her and her small team over the past few months.

The Richmond Wildlife Center, home to dozens of domestic and wildlife animals, was hit hard by high floodwaters that hammered Central Virginia over the weekend.

“Unfortunately, being a young non-profit, a lot of our cages are not professional grade,” Stanley shared.

Stanley took 8News on a tour of the facility on Monday to witness the damage left behind. The water-line in the box-turtle cage was peaking at the top and staples and nails were separating from some of the wooden cages.  

Some of the animals are now forced to be separated into two different sheds, as the now muddy grounds and soaked cages are growing mold, algae, and fungus.

“With the birds, the amount of mud that’s in their caging, with the amount of mold and algae that can quickly lead to feet issues if they can’t dry out and most of the caging is still wet and muddy,” Stanley said.

She went on to say that while working on assessing the damage, her priority is making sure the animals who are in distress from Saturday’s flooding are comfortable.

“It’s just hard, it sucks,” Stanley said. “Just getting them on dry linens and out of the cold and drying them off was a relief.”

Heavy rain that dumped through on Monday further saturated the center and its cages. Stanley says there are a lot of repairs to be made but as of now, power washing cages and rewiring fencing is a top priority.

The Richmond Wildlife Center is accepting donations for repairs and will keep the community updated on their social media pages. Stanley shares that the center has been getting an influx of calls since the storm hit on Saturday but is not taking any animals in until further notice.

It is recommended that those who need assistance call Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, or Wildlife Center of Virginia.

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