Archived News


February 20, 2001

This announcement was distributed February 20, 2001 by the Campus News Service.

UC Davis opens a $2.7 million bird-rescue center today, the newest facility in the world's finest network of emergency centers for wild animals hurt in oil spills.

UC Davis veterinarian and network director Jonna Mazet said she is relieved that the new San Francisco regional center, located in Cordelia, was finished before it was needed.

"Until we began developing the Oiled Wildlife Care Network in 1994, we were using makeshift facilities. It's been very, very difficult. When major spills occurred, we often spent the first one or two days setting up a rehabilitation center," Mazet said. "That's like making sick people wait while an emergency room is built."

The $2.7 million San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center can care for up to 1,000 birds that have swallowed, inhaled or been coated with oil. It was custom- designed according to the expertise accumulated during the past decade by UC Davis and California Department of Fish and Game wildlife veterinarians and oil-spill-response personnel -- expertise that appears to be dramatically reducing oiled- bird deaths.

The 10,000-square-foot center has specialized areas for bird intake, holding, washing, drying, isolation and recovery, as well as for food preparation, X-rays and necropsy. Recovering birds will be stabilized in net-bottom pens and recover in three large aviaries or one of 15 pools, each 15 feet across.

When it's not involved in an emergency, the facility will be used to train veterinarians, staff and volunteers for oil-spill rehabilitation; to care for some birds with non-oil-related injuries; and to teach grade-school children and veterinary students about wildlife and conservation.

The facility site is also the new headquarters of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network is managed by the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, which is part of the School of Veterinary Medicine. The network is funded by the California Department of Fish and Game's Office of Spill Prevention and Response. The Fish and Game monies come from interest on the $50 million California Oil Spill Response Trust Fund, which was built from assessments on the oil industry.

Two other wildlife care centers that opened in 1997 at Humboldt State University and in Santa Cruz have already been used to treat thousands of birds oiled in several spills. A third center opened in July 2000 at SeaWorld of San Diego. A Los Angeles regional center will open on March 21, 2001, in San Pedro.

"This network is being used as a model for other states and many other countries, including Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, Australia and Brazil," Mazet said. "And now, in the Bay Area, we are finally prepared for the inevitability of a major oil spill."

For a tour or to volunteer at the center, members of the public should contact the International Bird Rescue Research Center at (707) 207-0380.