Bend area wildlife rehab facility has big plans

Working on renovation, planning wildlife hospital

A new wildlife center in Bend is...

Think Wild, a Bend-area wildlife rescue and rehabilitator, is currently undergoing some rehab of its own, getting to work upgrading its facility and preparing to build a full-fledged wildlife hospital and conservation facility.

The facility east of Bend is in its first phase of construction. focusing on creating a sanctuary for its new patients.

After two years of planning, the wildlife conservation and education nonprofit announced Thursday it is starting construction on its new facility, where it expects to care for up to 250 patients (mammals, waterfowl and raptors) from around Central and Eastern Oregon in its first year.

The first phase is now underway, with demolition of building interiors at its four-acre property complete and a contractor on site. New plumbing, electrical and fixtures, and an enhanced floor plan are being designed to enhance animal care and workflow. 

“The wildlife hospital will fill an unmet need in the region, providing treatment and rehabilitation of a variety of native wildlife, as our growing community encroaches on critical habitats and conflicts with humans increase,” said Executive Director Michelle van Hilten.

“This essential community resource has been made possible by our dedicated staff and board, volunteer support, donors and Founder’s Circle members, a family foundation, and in-kind help from Johnson Brothers Appliances.”

Think Wild said its mission is to inspire the High Desert community to care for and protect native wildlife through education, conservation and rescue and rehabilitation. Led by a new executive director and an experienced board of directors, Think Wild said it has worked purposefully over the years to build a strong foundation to support the region’s wildlife and its habitats today and well into the future. 

Phase 2 of construction, planned for later in the year, will allow an increase in capacity for intake of different types of species, expanded enrichment and conditioning programs to further ensure successful release, and better naturalization of enclosures - all placing strong emphasis on reducing stress to wildlife during human care while at the facility.

The facility plans to house up to 1,000 different species after five years. 

The center will not be open to the public, as the recovery of the animals is the sole focus of the organization.

"But as far as visitors, we are not going to be open to the public, because it is a wildlife hospital and rehabilitation center," Van Hilten said. "We're focused on stress reduction, healing, sanctuary."

Think Wild invites community support for Phase 2 and in preparation for the hospital opening. People can contribute to the wildlife hospital by helping with hospital supplies, becoming a Founder’s Circle member and/or volunteering. Think Wild will be announcing a work party and open house soon for the community to come see progress on the build, pitch in and learn more about the organization. 

For more information or to volunteer, visit or email, visit the organization’s Facebook page or follow them on Instagram at @thinkwildco.

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