Our Mission & Vision

The Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary helps wild animals and their habitats thrive through a unique harmony of

wildlife rehabilitation,

public education,

& community collaboration.

Our Mission


Nestled in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, the Sanctuary cares for over 900 injured and orphaned wild animals each year with the goal of returning them to the wild once recovered. Our team of professionally licensed rehabilitators provides scientifically-informed and deeply compassionate care for every patient, from a white-footed mouse to a Great Horned Owl. The Sanctuary sits on 20 forested acres dotted with over 50 outdoor enclosures, creating a peaceful and realistic setting for our patients to recover in. Our highly individualized approach to patient care and our authentically “wild” setting make our facility a true Sanctuary for the animals in our care. 




Every patient
gets our very best.


RWS presents over 50 educational programs around Virginia each year, often featuring our education ambassador animals. Our squad of ambassadors are non-releasable wild animals that live permanently at the Sanctuary and visit folks of all ages to help them learn about the importance of native animals and their habitats.

The Sanctuary also educates the next generation of conservationists through our paid summer internship program and our year-round volunteering program, providing a hands-on environment for students to gain critical patient care skills and a deeper understanding of our complex natural world. 

Our 2023 student interns


The Sanctuary answers over 1,500 calls annually on our wildlife crisis hotline. We swiftly connect folks to the right regional resource for their given animal situation while empowering them to step in and help the animal in the first place. We work closely with other wildlife centers to ensure injured and orphaned patients get where they need to go, and we network with volunteer transporters when rescuers do not have the means to bring an animal in need to us. We also network with other like-minded organizations to build a community as interconnected as our wild ecosystems. We partner with nonprofits across Virginia to engage new audiences and work with conservation organizations to lend our perspective towards new initiatives. 

The Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary’s combination of animal care and public outreach constitutes our commitment to a vibrant, compassionate future for wildlife in Virginia and beyond. 

Our Vision

We envision a Virginia that teems with healthy, happy wild animals living alongside humans with minimal conflict. Wildlife and their habitats are protected and respected, and injured and orphaned animals receive the timely care they deserve. We envision Virginians of all ages knowing how to recognize a wild animal in need and, more importantly, feeling empowered to step in and help. 

We see a world where humans understand how their behavior impacts their wild neighbors and make choices that reflect a deep appreciation for those animals. Children learn to empathize and connect with wildlife, growing into adults who want to do right by wildlife. Humans understand that all animals, regardless of species, play a vital role in our world. 

We see a safe and beautiful ecological future, a world where environmental conservation is a cause everyone can and does believe in. We live in lush, brilliantly diverse ecosystems that benefit all of our neighbors - human and wild. 


2024 © Copyright Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary

Rockfish Wildlife Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. EIN 51-0498181.
Thank you for supporting our mission to help native wildlife in Virginia and beyond.