The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center announced today that it has hired veterinarian, Jennifer Riley, DVM as the director of veterinary services and a full-time staff member. Dr. Riley, a licensed veterinarian in Virginia, graduated from Tufts University in 2013, and has a lifelong passion for wildlife and wildlife medicine. Dr. Riley has held wildlife veterinary positions at the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic in San Ignacio, Belize, The Center for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife in Sanibel, Fla. and at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“Not only has Dr. Riley worked with, and learned, from some of the best wildlife veterinarians nationally and internationally, she is knowledgeable about the most current wildlife treatment techniques,” said BRWC Executive Director David Bancroft, adding, “her experience will be key to wildlife care as we soon open the only full-service wildlife veterinary hospital serving the region.”
Dr. Riley’s time in Belize provided her with invaluable clinical, operational, and managerial experience in a wildlife hospital working with multiple local rehabilitation organizations. As a leading member of a small team, she was responsible for many aspects of hospital operations in addition to clinical medicine.
“We are so pleased that Dr. Riley is joining our organization,” said BRWC Chair, Lisa Goshen. “With Dr. Riley on staff, and our new wildlife hospital opening soon, this will complete the transition the Board of Directors started four years ago to evolve BRWC into a sustainable nonprofit organization, addressing the needs of native wildlife, educating our children and families about wildlife, and expanding wildlife research issues.”
After Belize, Dr. Riley moved on to CROW where she focused on wildlife medicine while working with board certified veterinary specialists using state-of-the-art medical and surgical equipment. The annual caseload of approximately 3,500 patients representing over 200 different species of native wildlife gave her the opportunities to diagnose and treat a wide variety of wildlife diseases and greatly enhanced her soft tissue and orthopedic surgical skills. She mentored nearly 50 students, a dozen staff members, and about 100 volunteers over the course of her time there. In addition, she also participated in multiple research projects, published a wildlife emergency review chapter for North American Veterinary Community, conducted public outreach programs and delivered lectures to students, staff, and the general public.
At Lion Country Safari, Dr. Riley gained extensive experience working with a board certified veterinary specialists on many exotic species in a nearly wild setting. As a drive-through style safari with no cages and little keeper contact, she immobilized and treated large species including ostriches, rhinos, large felids and many types of hoofstock. Lion Country Safari also includes animals in more traditional walk through zoo exhibits for which she continued to practice medical and surgical skills on a variety of birds, reptiles, and small mammals – many native to our Mid-Atlantic region.
“I know with her extensive background in wildlife veterinary care, she will be a real asset in our new state-of-the-art facility”, commented Beatrice von Gontard, current vice chair of the BRWC Board, and one of the founders of the BRWC.
During her practice, Dr. Riley has gained extensive experience handling and treating Bald Eagles and managed eagles medically in both wildlife rehabilitation and zoo settings. She has treated many species of eagles and other raptors, including surgical repair of fractured wings using intramedullary pins/wiring, surgical and medical treatment of large infected wounds caused by other eagles or vehicle collisions, and head trauma. Dr. Riley has also cared for non-releasable eagles with issues as common as bumblefoot and as uncommon as heart disease — and in one case even performed a successful interspecies blood transfusion between raptors.
Dr. Riley is joining BRWC’s talented team of wildlife specialists and committed volunteers. This includes Heather Sparks, BRWC’s Manager of Rescue and Rehabilitation, a Category II Rehabilitator who has been with the organization for five years and Jennifer Burghoffer, BRWC’s Associate Manager of Rescue and Rehabilitation Associate Manager, also a Category II Rehabilitator who has been with the organization for four years.
“BRWC is so proud to have Dr. Riley on staff,” said, Bancroft. “With her, our other contract veterinarians, and our professional rehabilitation staff, we have now assembled the right team to propel the Center to the next level of excellence in serving our native wildlife.”