Great State: Building Wildcare

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NOBLE, OKLAHOMA -- Thirty years ago this house just outside the Noble, OK city limits was a nice fixer-upper. Rondi Large imagined herself enjoying a cup of coffee on her back porch early on, but that was a long time ago. "This was not supposed to be an animal facility," chuckles Rondi

The same back porch is now a combination hospital admissions, intensive care, classroom, even study area. It's filled with the kinds of supplies she might need to treat and care for the 4,500 injured and orphaned wild animals that people bring her morning, noon, and night. Oh, and there are animals on the porch too. "Crazy hours, crazy conditions," describes Large. "Freezing pipes in the winter and triple digits in the summer and none of us are out there working in air conditioning."

They may have started out small but over the years Rondi and her husband Tom's efforts to care for wild animals has become a full time job for both. A dozen paid staff, a small army of volunteers care for hundreds of small creatures at a time. There are birds to feed, some every half-hour around the clock. Pet carriers contain sick possums. Outdoor enclosures hide grey fox kits. Another holds white tail fawns. Even skunks have their own enclosure.

Rondi's animals took over the 3 car garage years ago. She parks birds and small mammals in here now. The building also serves as food prep area and laundry room. Rondi always thought more about her furry patients than she did the space they took up, but the numbers kept growing. Finally they gave birth to this notion. "We can't do it in the space we have any longer," she states simply.

Rondi and Tom had some plans drawn up for a new facility with a new admission area, a place for the more than 3,000 human visitors who come each year to see part of the operation, more rooms, nurseries, and surgeries. Rondi even found a place for her new building on their property. Standing in a now empty clearing Rondi lays out where she wants her new facility to be. "I want the nurseries to be here tucked into these trees."

The red tail hawks that came in as babies are nearly ready for release. A young bald eagle grows stronger. So does an orphaned beaver. Not a single one of them would have survived if not for Wildcare. Rondi Large hopes a new facility will save even more, and maybe, just maybe, give her a chance at that quiet cup of coffee on the back porch.

So here goes. This is Wildcare's biggest building project yet. Organizers are trying to raise about $375,000 to build a 5,200 square foot facility. They need help. If you're interested in donating to the cause you can visit the Wildcare website or call their building campaign phone number.

Phone - (405) 872-9338 or email

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