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The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge provides wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and environmental outreach to five counties in Northwest Florida. The refuge rescues thousands of animals a year working closely with law enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Marine Fisheries, and US Fish and Wildlife Service to protect, treat and release our native species. Refuge staff is on duty 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to assist these agencies in managing wildlife. The refuge also works with local governments, private businesses and individuals to protect habitats and wildlife that live there. Our educational programs include training law enforcement personnel on the proper handling of wildlife as well as educational programs for the public. The refuge partners with the public and private schools to educate our youth on the importance of native species.


Education, Conservation, and Rehabilitation for the welfare of Florida’s natural fauna.


When local fisherman George Grey walked quickly across the white sands of Pensacola Beach, with a single, tiny baby dolphin in tow, he never imagined that one simple act of kindness would start a local conservation revolution. George along with co- founders Richard Everett and Julie Parvin formed a coalition of volunteers, made up of local concerned citizens, to respond to the rescue of “Kiwi” a one month old Pantropical- spotted dolphin. Unable to move or touch the animal, due to federal laws, the dedicated volunteer group stood strong for seventy-two hours in waist deep waters, as they formed a human fence around the orphaned baby dolphin. The fragile “Kiwi” remained safe inside her circle of new friends protected from predators and certain death, as George rushed to complete the permitting process. Finally with the paperwork in order, George entered the water and accepted the very first patient to the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.


Wildlife Rehabilitation:
The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge’s daily operational goal is to rehabilitate and release all orphaned and injured wildlife indigenous to northwest Florida in accordance with good wildlife management practices.

The Refuge’s clinic currently provides emergency rescue services and medical care for up to 2,000 animals annually. Represented in this number are about 135 different species, ten of which are federally classified as endangered or threatened.

Project Outwild:
Today’s children rarely experience nature. In our world of technology and fast-paced living, the quiet moments in the woods that many of us experienced as a child are limited.

As the area’s premier educators on Florida’s wildlife and their habitats, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge provides community outreach programs throughout Northwest Florida. The Refuge education staff creates new programs regularly to ensure that the most current and up-to-date information on wildlife and environmental issues is placed before the public.

The Refuge has a significant edge in the educational arena due to the use of animal ambassadors. The animals inspire, excite and enthuse audiences and illustrate the message of conservation and preservation. The refuge participates in local events with ambassador animals to further the cause of animal protection and rehabilitation.

The Stranding Center:
The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge is a lead response team for the Federal Marine Mammal Stranding Network, assisting with all marine mammal strandings from central Walton County west to the Alabama state line. The refuge stranding team is trained to stabilize and transport distressed marine animals and sea turtles. Stranding Center staff is instrumental in collecting data and samples for use by state and federal agencies for important research and tracking.

Environmental Services:
The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge provides environmental consulting for area development companies, local government agencies, businesses, and individuals. The refuge has an on-staff field biologist that meets the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requirements to conduct a wide variety of research and survey projects, including migratory birds and endangered species projects.

Beach renourishment projects and beach armouring in particular require local governments to file detailed mitigation plans with both the state and federal governments. The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge is able to provide the data necessary to successfully create a workable habitat mitigation plan.


Even though Northwest Florida’s developmental growth continues to rise, local governments have yet to recognize a responsibility or need to provide assistance to our area wildlife or its citizens requiring wildlife services. For many people living in Walton, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, and Bay counties, the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge is their only source for assistance with a wildlife emergency. For over fourteen years the refuge has provided services free of charge to area residents to include a twenty-four hour emergency hotline, wildlife rehabilitation services, nuisance wildlife managment, and environmental education services for law enforcement and the public. The refuge is committed to offering assistance to all in need, humans and animals alike.

The Refuge’s clinic currently provides emergency rescue services, medical care, and release habitats for up to 2,000 animals annually including marine mammals and sea turtles.


In the Spring of 2010 the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge will move its operations to create a unique environmental education facility offering learning opportunities to students at all levels. By utilizing the facility’s newly designed indoor- outdoor classrooms and live animal exhibits, the center will provide premium educational tools to promote student development not only in the sciences, but all areas of learning. The center’s educators created a curriculum that focuses on the surrounding environment and hands-on experiences that will encourage students to employ skills in reasoning, logic, and mathematics. The programs will enhance the children's hands-on experiences and help instill a love for nature in everyone who attends.

Moving will not only allow the refuge to participate in the huge educational initiative, but will also provide growth opportunities in other areas as well. The development of a new fully functioning wildlife veterinary clinic will allow our staff to provide more accurate and successful care to our patients. The refuge will expand services in marine mammal rehabilitation with the addition of new pools to house dolphins, small whales, and sea turtles. Finally, with land set aside for exhibit habitats, the refuge will be able to house more non-releasable animals such as the Florida Panther and the critically endangered Red Wolf.

The Refuge will seek accreditation with the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums becoming the Florida panhandle's only AZA accredited animal facility. This distinction will set the refuge aside from all other local animal parks and organizations by proving that we meet and excel at providing the best animal care possible.


Amanda Wilkerson spent her childhood in Dallas, Texas and has devoted much of her life to animals. She came to the ECWR in the spring of 2000 as a volunteer, to gain hands on animal experience while pursuing her degree in Zoo Animal Science. During which time she interned at area zoos and marine parks where she worked hands-on with lions, tigers, bears, primates, birds of prey, reptiles, and an array of hoof stock and marine animals.

After showing her dedication to the ECWR as a volunteer she was hired as a part time office manager in May of 2001. In this position she was in charge of all record keeping and permits. She also implemented the computer program for animal medical records that the ECWR still uses today.

Shortly after proving herself as a vital team member of the ECWR Amanda was promoted to Animal Care Supervisor. Over the next year and a half, she made tremendous improvements in the areas of animal care and husbandry by utilizing the skills and information from her education and intern experiences.

In 2003, Amanda was offered the opportunity to work and perform with a variety of marine mammals including Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, Pan-tropical Spotted Dolphins, California Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and Grey Seals. She then pursued her childhood dream of working as a marine mammal trainer.

After only two years, Amanda decided that she no longer wanted to work in captive animal shows and dedicated her life to wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education. She once again joined the ECWR Team, this time as the director. Amanda has since worked tirelessly to make the ECWR become a leader in their industry and our community


President - Jerry Melvin
Vice-President Deronda Redden
Treasurer- Julie Parvin
Secretary- Kristen Rodriguez
Gary Redden
Debbie Edwards
Rick Ricketts
Lisa Branchcomb
Jeff Burns
Larry Anchors


United States

States of Operation



406 Mountain Drive
Destin, FL 32541-2334
Phone: (850) 650-1880

EIN: 59-3286744

A Gift Card


Protect a Nest

Hatch sea turtle nest

This gift will allow Refuge biologists and staff to conduct a nesting survey, mark the nest site, screen nest with self-releasing screen, relocate nests for conservation purposes when needed, and provide daily monitoring of nest site for mechanical beach cleaning.


Save a Dolphin

Rescue 1 sick dolphin

This gift will provide emergency rescue services to one stranded marine mammal including all dolphins and small whales. These services included transportation to rehabilitation center, on-beach medications and treatments, physical exam,and all diagnotics. The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge is a lead response team for the Federal Marine Mammal Stranding Network, assisting with all marine mammal strandings from central Walton County west to the Alabama state...


Teach the Humans

One Outwild program

This gift will provide one Project Outwild program to a school classroom or community group. Each program includes professionally designed cirriculum that meets all state educational requirements, educational materials, and of course our animal ambassadors for up to fifty students. The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge has a significant edge in the educational arena due to the use of animal ambassadors. The animals inspire, excite and...


Save a Wild Baby

One month of care

Your gift provides one baby mammal or bird with a complete physical exam, specialized formula, vitamin supplements, bedding, and even toys for an enitre month.


Freedom of Flight

Wing Repair Surgery

Your gift will provide one bird with surgery to repair a fractured wing and return it back into the wild.


Save a Life

One month of care

Your gift will provide one sick or injured wild animal with a complete physical exam, medication, enrichment and food for an entire month.