Open for wildlife rescue operations and animal rehabilitation

The Texas State Aquarium held the new Port of Corpus Christi Center for Wildlife Rescue Grand Opening on Thursday, March 2nd, 2023, coinciding with Texas Independence Day. The 26,000-square-foot wildlife rescue center will be on the Aquarium’s campus and replace the existing facilities on Rincon Road.

The new center will increase its’ capacity to respond to emergency wildlife events, becoming the largest coastal wildlife rescue facility in Texas, and one of the largest in the U.S. The center will be the only Texas wildlife rescue facility permitted to treat marine mammals, raptors, shorebirds, and sea turtles and can accommodate thousands of animals at any given time. The new center will be outfitted with state-of-the-art veterinary medical equipment, an interpretive gallery, an emergency operations center, and the only CAT scan used specifically for wildlife in Texas.

For the first time since the Aquarium’s rescue program started, the public will have unparalleled access to witness the treatment and rehabilitation of thousands of shorebirds, raptors, marine mammals, and sea turtles. One of the Aquarium’s goals is to facilitate learning for veterinary medical students and veterinary technologists and to better understand what the community can do to help protect wildlife.

The grand opening coincides with the monumental 50th Anniversary of the Endangered Species Act, which establishes protections for fish and wildlife listed as threatened or endangered. Leading the way since 1995, the Wildlife Rescue Program has admitted thousands of protected, threatened, and endangered species for rescue and rehabilitation, releasing over 4,000 animals back into their natural habitat.

Even before the Aquarium first opened its doors on the Gulf of Mexico experience in 1990, the founders envisioned a much larger facility. They developed a four-phased master plan, which, in addition to the Gulf of Mexico exhibit building, would include a marine mammal exhibition, a Caribbean wing, and a research, education, and conservation center. Dolphin Bay opened in 2003, Caribbean Journey in 2017, and with the opening scheduled for the wildlife rescue center in 2023, we will have essentially completed that visionary initial master plan.

About the Wildlife Rescue Program

The Wildlife Rescue Program is the largest coastal wildlife rescue program in Texas and one of the largest in the U.S. and is the only rescue program in Texas that is permitted to receive marine mammals, manatees, sea turtles, and birds. Since 1995, the Aquarium has admitted over 8,700 animals with over 4,000 released back into their natural habitat. 2,855 of those animals were endangered species.

The Texas State Aquarium has helped many stranded marine mammals, sea turtles, raptors, and shorebirds after they are injured in the wild. When one of these species is found injured, it is brought to the Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center for acute medical care. Once the animal is healthy and deemed releasable, the Aquarium returns the animal to its natural habitat. In the event the animal is not releasable due to a permanent disability, the Aquarium works to find a proper long-term facility for the animal.

Pending the condition of the animal when it is brought in, Aquarium staff stabilizes the animal, evaluates its condition, and provides comprehensive medical treatment. Services range from simply providing a safe, temporary refuge for an exhausted migratory shorebird to acute medical care for an ill dolphin.

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