Who We Are / History
The Northwoods Wildlife Center is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization working toward a better future for wildlife through education, research and rehabilitation.
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A Brief History of the Northwoods Wildlife Center
The culmination of a dream of local veterinarian Dr. Rory Foster and his wife Linda, the Northwoods Wildlife Center was incorporated in 1979, and became a separate entity from his veterinarian clinic, Foster-Smith Animal Hospital. What was the catalyst for making his dream a reality? An injured fawn which had been hit by a car was brought to his veterinary clinic in Minocqua, WI. The Fosters were determined to help this 2-day old, 4.5 pound fawn. Help it they did along with thousands of other animals! Soon after the fawn arrived, the Fosters began treating more wild animals brought to the clinic by concerned citizens. It was then decided they would form a non-profit organization dedicated to helping injured wildlife. Once enough money was raised a wildlife hospital was built next to the Foster-Smith Animal Hospital. On June 19, 1982 the Northwoods Wildlife Center was officially opened, becoming the first wildlife hospital in the Midwest!
Rory Foster's first book Dr. Wildlife is the story of how the hospital came into being. Today the original building is still there, but has been added on to many times in order to improve our ability to care for and treat wildlife. Education programs and the space to house permanent residents were soon added. In his second and final book, I Never Met an Animal I Didn't Like, Dr. Foster continued his story and the activities of the Center. Unfortunately Dr. Rory Foster past away in 1987 at the age of 37 from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His dream and passion continues to be carried on by past, present and future staff, volunteers, and interns. You can learn more about the Center by reading, Wildlife Hospital, by Sybil Ferguson. In her book among the many characters you meet is Orson the Great Horned owl. Orson was our original resident and continued to educate the public until he passed away in the Spring of 2009.
All of these books are out of print today, but most can be found at your local library. In limited availability,Wildlife Hospital can be purchased at the center and occassionally found on websites. The best way to learn about the Wildlife Center, though, is to come visit. Public tours of our residents are given year round. Summer hours are 10am-4pm (Mon-Sat) and free tours are given every half hour. Winter and spring hours are from 10am-2pm (Mon-Fri). Story Time readings and other Nature programs are offered throughout the summer. Also you never know what you might see in our wildlife nursery!