Who We Are
Peace River Wildlife Center (PRWC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit wildlife rehabilitation and education center tucked neatly into the mangroves overlooking Charlotte Harbor at Ponce de Leon Park in Punta Gorda Isles, Florida.
The Center and our gift shop are open to the public for tours every day from 11a – 4p, and our hospital accepts wildlife intakes from 8a – 5p every day, seven days per week, 365 days per year, including all holidays. We do not charge an admission fee, but donations are greatly appreciated and needed to support our mission. Your donations and gift store purchases go directly to the care of our wildlife patients and residents.
The PRWC does not receive any federal government support. The costs involved in maintaining these educational displays and feeding almost 120 permanent residents and more than 2,500 patient admissions annually are nearly $80,000 per year. All of the Peace River Wildlife Center’s expenses are met through your donations, our recycling program, gift shop sales, and small grants. PRWC’s mission is carried out primarily by volunteers.
In 1982, Dr. Jerry Gingerich was President of the local chapter of the Audubon Society. Because of his work with the Audobon Society and his interest in wildlife, injured and orphaned wildlife ended up at his veterinary office.
With instructions from Dr. Gingerich, Larry, and Virginia Montaque, they started treating wildlife on the lanai of their home in 1982. They installed a telephone and an answering machine with Audubon listing in their home and began caring for injured and orphaned birds, mammals, and reptiles.
They recruited volunteers to help with the care of wildlife and, in eighteen months, documented over 800 calls. With the increased need for more space and habitats for animals that could not be released, the operation was moved to an acre of land on Marion Avenue next door to Dr. Gingerich’s Veterinary office in 1984.
In 1985, Peace River Wildlife Center, Inc. became an incorporated, not-for-profit organization. They then leased property from the City of Punta Gorda in Ponce de Leon Park to build the new Center.
Since its beginnings, the wildlife center has treated over 50,000 birds and small mammals, offering a high level of skilled care by trained and permitted wildlife rehabilitation specialists with years of experience in treating native fauna disease and trauma.
Peace River Wildlife Center is a member of the Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Association (FWRA), the National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association (NWRA), and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC). We are licensed and overseen, and permitted by the US FWS, USDA, and FL FWC.
As of 2018, PRWC admits over 2,500 patients annually, a number that has increased every year since the Center’s founding. If a bird or small animal cannot be returned to its native habitat after treatment and recovery but is otherwise healthy, it could become a permanent resident of the Center or another federally and state-approved facility. The Center typically has over 100 permanent wildlife residents on educational display.
All of the permanent residents are available for viewing by the public in attractive, spacious aviaries and habitats suggestive of their native environments. Among the birds available for viewing are Bald Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Ospreys, Crested CaraCara, Sandhill Cranes, Pelicans, Herons, Shorebirds, Cormorants, Songbirds, Crows, and Vultures. We also have Tortoises and Turtles. The Mammals you will see are Opossums and Rabbits.