Document Type


Publication Title

Journal for Nature Conservation

Publication Date



Wildlife rehabilitation, Animal welfare, Conservation, Life stage, Circumstance of rescue, Vertebrates


Wildlife rehabilitation is an increasingly important and global practice, aiming towards advancements in animal welfare and species conservation. Although there are ongoing discussions on the benefits and limitations of wildlife rehabilitation, there is a general agreement on the importance of wildlife rehabilitation on improving the welfare of wild animals and identifying threats to wildlife. Determining which factors lead to a successful outcome of rehabilitation can allow wildlife rehabilitation centres to best focus their resources to benefit animals with the greatest chance of a successful release. In this study, three factors affecting the success of rehabilitation were evaluated: taxonomic group, life stage and circumstance of rescue. We used a large database of patients’ records (9561 animals from 198 species) from Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre (Ontario, Canada) over a three year study period (from 2015 to 2018). We found that reptiles had a higher rate of release (63.6 %), compared with mammals (42.1 %) and birds (48.3 %), although released reptiles spent longer in the centre than birds and mammals. Animals arriving to the centre in poor condition were less likely to be rehabilitated and spent longer in the centre than animals arriving in good condition. Overall, preadults were more likely to be released than adults, although the number of days spent at the centre did not differ by life stage. Animals suffering active damage (e.g. ‘collision’ and ‘projectile’) were less likely to be rehabilitated than animals suffering passive damage (e.g. arriving to the centre as ‘orphan’ or due to ‘habitat destruction’); however, when only considering those animals that left the centre, the number of days spent at the centre did not differ between animals suffering passive or active damage. The analysis of patients’ records can provide relevant information to rehabilitators about factors influencing rehabilitation efforts, which can be used to implement strategies that maximise release rates, given limited resources.


Initially published in Journal for Nature Conservation 57 (2020) 125897.

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (



Data Profile.xml (1 kB)
Data profile

Included in

Biology Commons