Wildlife Rescue

The goal of the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center is to rehabilitate and, whenever possible, return the animals to their natural environment.

Each year, thousands of protected, threatened, or endangered species along the Texas coast become ill or injured. Some have been impaired by predators, diseases, or other natural causes. Most are brought to our facility with problems caused directly or indirectly by humans. This includes entanglement in fishing line, nets, or lures, and even illegal harassment and shootings. The Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center is federally permitted and operates under rigorous standards established by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Our animal care program is a valuable community service that continues to grow with state-of-the-art equipment and highly-trained staff, allowing us to take in a treat more animals than in previous years. In 2016, Wildlife Rescue was able to treat 346 shorebirds, 88 more than we saw in 2015. rehab staff personally went out into the community to rescue 113 birds, while others were brought in by the public. In 2016, we were able to release 125 birds back into their natural habitats.

Wildlife Rescue is able to accept the following types of animals:

  • Shorebirds


    Egrets, Gulls, Oystercatchers, Pelicans, Plovers, Sandpipers, Skimmers, Spoonbills, Stilts, Terns

  • Raptors (Birds of Prey)


    Eagles, Falcons, Hawks, Owls

  • Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles


    Dolphins, Otters, Sea Turtles


  • The Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue will gladly take raptor, shorebird or waterfowl babies, but will not be able to take in other baby birds. If you are unsure of what kind of bird you have, call 361.881.1210.

    IMPORTANT: Because birds are protected, it is not legal to keep a bird unless you have the necessary permits to do so. It is very important that you turn over any bird as soon as possible, not only because it’s the law, but for the bird’s safety and well-being.

How We Rescue and Rehabilitate

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.

The public must contact the Rehabilitation department at (361) 881-1210 during operating hours before bringing a bird to the Aquarium. We regret that we are unable to admit other types of birds.

If you find an injured bird, please follow the instructions below.

  • What to Do If You Find an Injured Shorebird

    Most birds can be difficult to catch safely. The easiest method is to use a large towel or sheet and throw over the bird. Once covered and unable to see, most birds will immediately calm down long enough to pick them up and put them in a secure area, such as a pet crate or box.

    When rescuing shorebirds with sharp beaks, be sure to avoid close contact and wear eye protection. The defense mechanism for these birds is often to lunge at the face and eyes.

    Once you have secured the bird, keep it in a dark, quiet area until you can bring it to the Wildlife Rescue Center. Please bring the bird to the center as quickly as possible so treatment can begin.

    Please do not try to feed any bird you rescue.

  • What to Do If You Find an Injured Raptor

    Rescuing a raptor can be a daunting task. Keep in mind that they have large beaks and powerful talons. It is recommended that you use thick, leather gloves and eye protection. The easiest method is to use a large towel or sheet and throw over the bird. Once covered and unable to see, most birds will immediately calm down long enough to pick them up and put them in a secure area, such as a pet crate or box.

    When rescuing raptors with sharp beaks, be sure to avoid close contact and wear eye protection. The defense mechanism for these birds is often to lunge at the face and eyes.

    Once you have secured the bird, keep it in a dark, quiet area until you can bring it to the Aquarium. Please bring the bird to the Aquarium as quickly as possible so treatment can begin.

    Please do not try to feed any bird you rescue.

  • What to Do If You Find a Baby Bird

    The most important thing to clear up about baby birds is the myth that the parents will reject their babies if they smell your scent on them. This is FALSE. Most birds have a terrible sense of smell and will be none the wiser if you place a fallen baby bird back in its nest.

    Fledging
    If you find a baby bird on the ground, chances are it was attempting that first flight out of the nest and realized too late that it wasn’t ready.

    Falling out of the nest
    Usually a nest will contain anywhere from 1-4 growing babies, which can create a cramped living area, and sometimes, for lack of space, a baby may fall out of the nest.

    Acts of nature
    High speed winds and storms can cause nests to fall out of trees, especially here in South Texas.

    In any case, when you find a baby, the best course of action is to place it back in the nest. Remember: the parents must leave to find food and will return to their babies to feed and care for them.

    If you can’t find the nest or can’t reach it:
    You can leave the baby on the ground near where you originally found it, if you feel it will be safe from cats, dogs, or other dangers.
    An empty shoebox without a lid makes a great temporary shelter for the baby, and still allows the parent to find the bird.

    If you feel the nest has been destroyed and/or the parents are no longer in the area:
    Put the baby in a shoebox or other small container and call a wildlife rehabilitator right away.
    Remember to keep the baby in a warm, quiet, dark room.
    Do NOT attempt to feed or give water to a baby bird.

Directions to our Wildlife Rescue and Recovery Center

To Wildlife Rescue  Center from Corpus Christi

Take Highway 181 North – Harbor Bridge exit. After crossing the bridge, take the first exit (Corpus Christi Beach). Follow the road’s curve to the stop sign. Turn left onto Burleson Street (you will drive straight under the causeway). Continue straight about 1/2 mile to Rincon Road and turn right after crossing the railroad tracks. SeaLab is 1/2 mile on the right hand side.

To Wildlife Rescue Center from Portland

Take Highway 181 South towards Corpus Christi. Before crossing the Harbor Bridge, take the Burleson Street exit. Turn right at the stop sign onto Burleson and continue about 1/2 mile to Rincon Road. Turn right after crossing the railroad tracks. SeaLab is 1/2 mile on the right-hand side.

View Larger Map

Other animal care and rescue resources

ARK – 361.749.6793; 750 Channel View, Port Aransas, TX
Takes all species of birds

Jeannine Adamson – 361.576.3339; Victoria, TX
Takes all species of birds and baby birds

Gulf Coast Wildlife Rescue – 979.245.4392; Bay City, TX
Takes all species of birds

Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation – 210.698.1709; Kendalia, TX (by San Antonio)
Takes all birds, babies and other animals

Donate to Wildlife Rescue