The Aark is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation and education center. The founder of the Aark, Mary Jane Stretch, is one of the nation’s leading authorities on wildlife rehabilitation. Our Executive Director, Leah Stallings, is the daughter of Mary Jane and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Combined, these two women have over 70 years of experience in wildlife rehabilitation. Ms. Stretch and Ms. Stallings are frequent speakers before national, state and local groups. Ms. Stretch has been featured on such national television programs as the “Today Show” and her life’s dedication has been chronicled in the books: “The Swan in My Bathtub” and, more recently, “For the Love of Wild Things.”
The work of the Aark is divided into three major areas – rehabilitation, education and training; each with the common goal of fostering the care and understanding of wildlife.
As a rehabilitation center, the Aark sets broken bones, treats illnesses, and provides food and shelter for birds and mammals that have been injured or orphaned and are unable to care for themselves. The goal is to return these creatures to their natural environment as quickly as possible. Every effort is made to avoid interfering with the development of those natural characteristics that enable each wild creature to survive in the wild. Annually more than 5,000 birds and mammals find aid and shelter at the Aark, making it the busiest wildlife center in Pennsylvania.
As an education center, the Aark provides several different programs each year including summer camps, private tours and off site programs. These programs help inform attendees of the proper ways to handle injured or orphaned wildlife, and encourage them to appreciate wildlife with respect and from a safe distance. It also stresses the fact that the best place for a wild animal is in the wild and that bringing an animal to the Aark is a last resort.
As a training center, the Aark and its staff devote a portion of their schedules to educating individuals interested in learning how to respect and care for wildlife. The Aark and its intern program is accredited by many regional colleges and universities that offer academic credit for the rigorous program offered under the guidance and direction of the Aark Staff. Annually, students, referred to as “interns,” gain invaluable experience in the handling and care of wounded creatures and orphaned animals.
The Aark is staffed by a group of wildlife professionals and dedicated trained volunteers who provide service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Depending upon the age and/or injury a wounded or orphaned animal may require attention every hour throughout the day and night. Assistance is also available by trained professionals via phone inquiries on a variety of questions relating to injured or orphaned animals ranging from whether or not an animal is in need of human help to safely capturing and transporting a wounded animal to our center. The Aark is open 24 hours a day for drop off.