Prior to Hurricane Katrina, they operated on five acres in Woolmarket, but the center was destroyed. Now the center is taking one of the first steps to re-establishing a fully operational wildlife rehabilitation center. Ollie, the great horned owl, has quite a story to tell. Rescued nearly 20 years ago by Alison Sharp, this bird is the reason that the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center started on the Gulf Coast. Sharp, the director of the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center, says, "This owl here is the primary reason I got into animal rehabilitation and why I started the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center." On Friday, Alison and Ollie celebrated the opening of the new Wildlife Intake Center in Gautier. Sharp also says, "It took a lot of funding and a lot of help to do that, but we got it all pulled together and here we are, so I'm really excited."
The location on Audubon lane was leased to the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, and the building was donated to the organization by the City of Gautier. Billy Payne, the president of the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center says, "When Gautier made the offer for this, it was like a dream come true. It wasn't something that we could have done on our own." All of the workers are volunteers. They help save endangered species and take in over 1,500 animals per year." Deborah Gebhart, the secretary for the Wildlife Care and Rescue Center, says, "It's important to have a wildlife center here, not only for the public to know that we're here, but also to learn about these animals." The intake center will serve as a drop off point for citizens to bring injured and orphaned wildlife and as base of operations for the volunteers. This location serves the citizens and wildlife in the six southern counties of Mississippi. Although the official opening of the intake center is today, publicly rescued animals have already been received there.