North Carolina Animal Sanctuaries


 Image is of a ring-tailed lemur, available to see at the Duke Lemur Center. (Photo in public domain)

North Carolina has only a few protection laws for exotic animals. Some organizations and rescues have taken it upon themselves to create rehabilitation centers for threatened species and create safe habitats for them. Once the organizations created proper habitat and the animal has stable health, the public is free to observe them. All of the organizations listed below provide detailed information about all the species they currently hold.

They also offer hands-on educational opportunities for all age groups. This is one of the many advantages of animal rescues. 

These sanctuaries are essential for stabilizing ecosystems. With some species not protected under law and not having proper awareness, it’s easy for these animals to shift from threatened, to endangered, to extinct. Animal sanctuaries not only work to rehabilitate the animals they house, but research and fight to end abuse, habitat destruction, and extinction. 

North Carolina is one of the four states in the country that doesn’t have regulations on wild pet trade. The Carolina Tiger Rescue, founded as the Carnivore Evolutionary Research Institution in 1973, has made it their mission to protect threatened and endangered wildcats. The rescue currently has 11 species in their care. How the rescue works: They create a habitat specifically for that species, the facility has to be climate controlled, medical history must be fully disclosed and evaluated,  lastly the animals contracted for their transfer. Rescues are not accepted if they come from active breeders unless they sign a contract stating they will close business and agree to never own a wildcat again. Some wildcats aren’t accepted if the rescue can not provide a stable environment. 

North Carolina is one of the four states in the country that have the sifaka and the blue-eyed black lemur. With mass deforestation in their natural habitat, Madagascar lemurs are the largest endangered mammal species. Because it is such a small island there aren’t as many options for relocation. The Duke Lemur Center is currently housing over 200 lemurs with 14 different species. Duke Lemur Center has an adoption program to help fund their programs. People can symbolically buy or adopt a lemur to help sponsor their efforts to preserve the Lemur population. More information about adopting a lemur is on their website. The Duke Lemur Center hosts events to raise awareness and support their organization. More information about events is on their website. 

Carolina Raptor Center in Huntsville, NC is a non-profit organization that relies on public financial support. Co-founders Dr.Brown and Debb Sue Griffin founded The Carolina Raptor Center in 1981. The organization houses between 100 to 800 rescues each year. This is the largest raptor medical center in the United States. They provide environmental education and rehabilitation for injured or orphaned raptors. Of the animals housed 70% return back to their natural habitat. They work with the community to provide education and volunteer opportunities while helping at-risk raptors. The raptors in their custody are available for viewing when deemed stable. 

Some of the organizations native to North Carolina are working to help bring a stop to illegal trade and animal abuse. Illegal hunting is one of the main reasons for endangered species along with deforestation.

The rescues take in animals from circuses, breeders, and independent contractors. The NC exotic animal importation requirements only protect species native to NC, leaving lots of others vulnerable. The US doesn’t have many laws protecting nonnative species only against trading. 

These rescues rehabilitate the animal and put them to the original habitat. Others create mock environments to house and breed animals to help prevent extinction. Mock environments can cost thousands of dollars. That’s why donations and sponsorships are essential, especially for non- profits. 


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