Visit CROW on the Wildlife-Friendly Island of Sanibel

By: Gillian Birch

Thousands of visitors flock to Sanibel Island every year to enjoy the beaches and popular Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Less well-known, but equally important for local wildlife, is the island’s Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) which provides medical care and rehabilitation for rescued wildlife. | Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) wildlife hospital Sanibel Island, Florida.

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

The History of CROW on Sanibel Island

Founded in 1968, CROW cares for over 4000 sick and injured wild animals every year thanks to the staff, volunteers, supporters and students that are involved in this nonprofit organization. CROW started from very humble beginnings when local resident, Shirley Walter, came across a royal tern that had been injured by a car. She nursed it back to health and, along with the help of veterinarian Dr Phyllis Douglass and a group of volunteers, that tern became the first of 500 distress calls they answered in that first year.

CROW inevitably outgrew Shirley’s home and moved to Captiva before relocating to their current site on Sanibel-Captiva Road. This 10-acre site enabled CROW to build an educational pavilion in 1992 and commence a veterinary internship program for students in 1996. Despite setbacks by Hurricane Charley, CROW now boasts a 4,800-square-foot hospital for its wildlife residents and a further Healing Wings Visitor Center for students and visitors.

Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) Sanibel Island, FL | Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

More recently, CROW has developed sea turtle facilities to educate the public and help conserve rare and endangered species of turtles that regularly crawl ashore on Sanibel’s beaches to lay their eggs.

What to See on a Visit to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at CROW

As well as providing a much-needed sanctuary for sick, injured and orphaned animals and birds, CROW provides a fascinating and informative visitor attraction. The excellent educational facilities provide space and amenities for many interesting displays and exhibits.

Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) visitor center exhibits Sanibel Island, Florida | Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Visitors can watch live videos of the animals treated by CROW, see wildlife presentations and attend special events. Children will love the interactive exhibits and the chance to peep through the viewing window into the hospital surgery room.

See past medical records, diagnostic testing and treatment methods used at the center and learn more through the interactive Wildlife Species Touch Screen Profiles. You can even play at being the vet, try the Surgical Challenge Game and test your knowledge with the Taking Action Quiz.

Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife - CROW family-friendly interactive wildlife exhibit. Sanibel Island, Florida. Must Do Visitor Guides,

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

How YOU can Support CROW

Donations and support, both financial and from volunteers giving their time, enable CROW to continue its vital work as a nonprofit organization. The low-cost admission by suggested donation makes this a very family-friendly place to visit. Open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, and Saturdays in winter, the admission includes Wonders of Wildlife (WOW) presentations daily at 11am and 2pm.

Individual and family memberships start from just $10 for students and $50 for two named adults. Not only will your membership provide much-needed funds for CROW’s wildlife rescue, care and rehabilitation efforts, it includes free unlimited admission to the Visitor Center for one year plus a newsletter, a number of single-use guest passes and discount in the gift shop.

Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) gift shop Sanibel Island, Florida

Photo credit Nita Ettinger

Another way to support this worthwhile nonprofit is by dropping into the CROW Gift Store or shopping online for clothing, gifts, toys, jewelry and home accents. All profits go to support essential clinics and patient care for Sanibel’s’ wildlife which is certainly something to “CROW” about!

Written by: Gillian Birch | Author Website

Gillian Birch is a freelance travel writer and, whenever possible between trips, she enjoys life in Florida. As the wife of a Master Mariner, she has traveled extensively and lived in some exotic locations all over the world, including the Far East and the Republic of Panama. Describing herself as having "endless itchy feet and an insatiable wanderlust", she continues to explore Florida and further afield, writing about her experiences with wonderful clarity and attention to detail. With a diploma in Journalism from the BCJ, she has published several travel books and ebooks, all available on Amazon under her name. Formerly the Florida Editor for BellaOnline from 2011-13, Gillian is an active member of the International Travel Writers' Alliance and the Gulf Coast Writers' Association, and an enthusiastic guest blogger for Visitor Guides. Learn more about her writing as YourTravelGirl at: and follow her blog around the world at