Wildlife Center of Venice Receives Million Dollar Donation

Updated: Nov. 26, 2019 at 8:04 PM EST
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VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - The Wildlife Center of Venice is the only place of its kind on the Suncoast. This non-profit organization rescues and cares for sick, injured or orphan wildlife found throughout all of Southwest Florida.

On Tuesday, not only were they recognized for that, but they also received an early holiday present from new, gracious sponsors.

Mr. and Mrs. Paul Gross presented the Wildlife Center of Venice with a $1 million check. It’s the largest single donation in the center’s history. They learned about, and reached out to, the center after seeing one of ABC7’s stories about their hope for expansion.

Mr. and Mrs. Gross then took a trip to the facility to see exactly what the organization does. They couldn’t believe how volunteers and staff respond to about 100 calls a day, and how they’re able to get thousands of animals cured and ready to adapt and live in the wild.

“Today my knowledge is more enhanced. There is a lot that this center can do with upgraded treatment facilities, animal hospitals, connections with vets, to preserve and protect our wildlife,” explained Paul Gross.

When they heard about the plan to move to a bigger location, they said they knew they had step in.

“They have make-shift aviaries, make-shift cages for the animals, but their vision is so much greater. Their capital plan was a million dollars, and I just said, what better use of what I’ve been so fortunate to have, than to help contribute to a mission such as this,” Paul Gross tells us.

Both being involved in health care their entire lives, they say the compassion they saw from the center was what linked them to the center’s goal.

“I just said, what better use of what I’ve been so fortunate to have, than to help contribute to a mission such as this,” Gross said.

This one million dollar donation completely funds the center’s capital project goal, and also allows them to speed up their plans for expansion.

“This will help us pay off the property that we’re just now starting to build on, so the center will own its own property. Then we’ll start working on developing the interior part of the hospital, so it’s a really good start,” Pamela DeFouw, The Wildlife Center of Venice’s Director, explained.

Almost everything at the center will double in size as it transitions to the new facility. It is now being built to focus on creating habitats to be species-specific, and the enclosures for every animal will be expanded. Plus, with this new move, they’re also upgrading their image.

“We are officially changing the name form the Wildlife Center of Venice to the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida,” DeFouw said.

Since the center first opened in Venice back in 2004, they’ve grown to not only serve that area, but all of Sarasota, Charlotte and Manatee counties.

“This group has strived for 15 years helping the animals, and for them to expand to all of southwest Florida is just incredible. We’re just thankful that we could help,” expressed Veronica Gross.

If you’d like to volunteer or donate to the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida, click here.

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