Wildlife Rehabilitation

The Chattanooga Zoo’s Wildlife Rehab Department is a licensed rehabilitation facility that maintains permits from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

The Wildlife Rehab Department operates from 11:00am to 4:00pm daily.

To ensure our Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff is available to care for the animal, please call and speak with a rehab representative BEFORE bringing the animal to the zoo. (Contact the Zoo)   Please LEAVE US A MESSAGE and we will return your call as quickly as possible to arrange your admission.  

Due to staffing, the Chattanooga Zoo is not available to preform animal rescues. All animals that need rescuing will need to be brought to the Zoo after arranging an admission with our staff.


For the safety of the animals and individuals, Tennessee state law PROHIBITS individuals keeping wildlife without a permit. The Wildlife Rehabilitation Staff can assist you with emergency instructions to care for the animal until you can get it to a licensed rehabilitator.


Due to state wildlife laws, the Chattanooga Zoo is NOT permitted to rehabilitate animals found outside the state of Tennessee. Should you find an animal outside the state of Tennessee, please contact the state's Wildlife Department for more information (see below).

Due to possible rabies exposure, the Chattanooga Zoo is NOT permitted to rehabilitate raccoons, bats, foxes, coyotes or skunks. Rabies is a viral disease that is transferred through the saliva of an infected animal. Because of this, the animal does not necessarily have to bite you to transfer the disease. If you find one of these animals we strongly recommend not handling the animal. If the animal has bitten you, contact your local health department immediately.


The Chattanooga Zoo operates as an intake facility only and partners with several wildlife rehabilitators in the surrounding area. The animals brought to the Zoo are transferred to other rehabilitators shortly after admission. These rehabilitators will then care for the animal until they are ready to be released back into the wild. If you find an injured, orphaned, or displaced animal, feel free to contact them directly.


Happinest Wildlife Rehabilitation and Rescue


Songbirds: Jeff and Sherry Teas 423.593.3932 or 423.593.0032 (Chattanooga)

Birds of prey: Alix Parks 423.847.5757 (Chattanooga)

Mammals: Kate Harrell 540.392.5428 (Chattanooga)


Ziggy’s Tree Wildlife Rehabilitation Center


Mammals: Angela Hensley 615.631.2205 (Murfreesboro)

Songbirds: LouAnn Partington 931.393.4835 (Tullahoma)


Walden’s Puddle Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center


All Native Tennessee Wildlife: 615.299.9938 (Nashville)


Other Rehabilitators

Mammals: Tish Gailmard 423.886.6224 (Chattanooga)




Injured animals…

Use extreme caution when handling injured wildlife, they can be very aggressive. If the animal needs to be handles, for your safety, it is recommended you wear leather gloves. Place the animal in a well-ventilated cardboard box with a towel at the bottom. Keep the box in a dark, quiet, and warm place until you can get it to a rehabilitator. 

Infant animals…


It is a MYTH that a mother will not accept its infants once it has come into contact with human hands (this includes birds). Mothers can teach their young survival skills better and faster than we can, which is why we want to keep them together whenever possible. To give mom a chance to care for/retrieve her infant, place it back in the nest or return it to where it was found.


NEVER  give an infant any type of formula or milk.  These animals require specialized diets and can develop fatal problems from being fed the incorrect diet.  If needed, you can make a rehydrating solution of 50% Pedialyte and 50% water.  Once the infant is warm you can try to give it drops of the solution using a syringe or eyedropper.  NEVER try to force-feed an animal, as this could cause the animal to aspirate and can be fatal.If the animal’s eyes are still closed, it will need to be stimulated to urinate and defecate. After hydrating, gently wipe the genital area with a cotton ball moistened with warm water.    



If the baby is not fully feathered and is not injured, try placing it back in the nest. If the nest has been destroyed you can hang a grass-lined basket or a plastic container (with holes poked in the bottom for drainage in case of rain) in the location of the old nest. It is always best to get the new nest as close to the old one as possible.  Watch from a distance for up to 2 hours and if the mother does not return contact a rehabilitator.

If the baby is fully feathered, has tail feathers and is hopping on the ground, it is a fledgling. If it is not injured, y ou may place the bird back in the nest if it is within reach, but chances are it will hop out again. This is a very necessary stage at which the young bird learns how to fly, find food and to watch out for predators. The bird's mother can teach them these things much faster than we can, so please do not disturb the bird. Fledglings will be flying within a couple of days, so if you have cats, perhaps they could stay inside for a short time.


Squirrels will often times fall out of their nest.  If you find a baby squirrel on the ground do not remove it.  Mother squirrels do not abandon their young, so she will most likely retrieve it. If the nest is destroyed, give the mother a chance to move the babies. Squirrels will typically have 2-3 nests in which she can move her young. If you are concerned for the safety of the squirrel you can put the squirrel in a basket and hang it from the base of the tree in which it fell . The mother will still retrieve it from the basket. Watch from a distance for 2 hours or until dark, whichever comes first.  If the mother does not return, contact a rehabilitator.

Cottontail Rabbits

Mother cottontails spend less than one hour per day with their babies. They forage during the day and return only at dusk and dawn to feed their young. You may never see her return to the nest. If you uncover a nest of infants, leave them be and check them again in the morning. If they appear round and plump, the mother has been back to care for them. The mother will not mind if you accidentally destroy the nest, simply put the babies and bedding back in place. Please contact a rehabilitator before removing the infants. 

If you find a small rabbit hopping around and it is as big as a tennis ball and is running away from you it does not need your assistance.


A doe will leave her fawn alone for up to 8 hours at a time.  During that time she is out foraging for food and allowing her milk to replenish.  Because fawns have very little scent, a doe will also stay away to protect her fawn from predators.  She will return to the fawn several times throughout the day to feed and clean it, but will then leave it once again.  If you come across a fawn, chances are it is not orphaned. The best thing to do is leave it be and allow mom to come back to care for it. If the fawn appears to be injured or you are unsure if the fawn needs to be rescued, please do not remove it until you have contacted a rehabilitator. 


Opossums ride on their mothers back or in their pouch and will occasionally fall off and become separated. If you find a small opossum wandering by itself and it's body is more than 8 inches long (not including tail) it is old enough to be on its own.  If it is smaller than this, contact a rehabilitator.

Thank you for helping care for our local wildlife.  The Chattanooga Zoo is honored to help with your efforts.

Smartphone users, download the free Animal Help Now app to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Using your location, this app will assist you in getting in touch with a wildlife rehabilitator near you. You can also visit there website at www.ahnow.org.

Tennessee Wildlife Rehabilitation Contact:
Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency
Georgia Wildlife Rehabilitation Contact:
Georgia Department of Natural Resources & Game Management


Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Contact:
Alabama Department of Conservation & Natural Resources


North Carolina Wildlife Rehabilitation Contact:
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

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