You might've visited Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area for a hike - there are more than 40,000 acres to explore, including a few of my favorite hikes only 30 minutes east of Atlanta.
But did you know that the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area is also home to a wildlife center? AWARE (the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort) was founded in 1999, and accepts up to 2,000 injured or orphaned animals each year. AWARE focuses on rehabilitation efforts for these animals, as well as community education on how to peacefully co-exist with wildlife.
When it comes to wildlife rehabilitation, AWARE takes on many different roles. The trained staff can assist with stabilizing and caring for injured animals, and can determine whether animals can be re-released into the wild or require further assistance. If the animal is too injured to return to the wild, AWARE will locate a permanent home for them at AWARE or another wildlife sanctuary. Some animals that remain at AWARE are used in educational programs to educate the public about native wildlife. If you've found a wild animal in need of help, you can get in touch here.
If you encounter a wild animal that needs temporary immediate care, AWARE also has helpful tips categorized by type of animal (from birds of prey to reptiles) on their site here.
I had the pleasure of visiting AWARE's facility for a private tour, where I got to meet a variety of animals, many currently in the rehabilitation process. Some animals are held permanently for educational purposes, where the staff engages them with daily enrichment activities. Other animals that I met are temporary guests, and are recovering from injuries involving cars, other animals, or improper human interaction. The highly-trained staff focuses on proper nutrition and expert care to get the animals back in shape!
If you're interested in meeting some of the animals and you'd like to learn more about AWARE's mission and how you can get involved, they host public tours every Saturday & Sunday at 1 pm. Tours are free and no reservations are required, but donations are welcome to support AWARE's mission!
Check out some of AWARE's wildlife ambassadors below:
AWARE also offers Wildlife Education Programs for both children and adults, where you can host an event on-site or at another Atlanta metro area location, and private encounters are also available for purchase if you'd like more 1:1 time with the animals! More information on all of these experiences can be found here.
Check out more behind-the-scenes content of the animals & staff at AWARE here - you can also find a link to make a tax-deductible donation to help fund AWARE's mission.
Make sure to follow along at @atladventurer on Instagram + TikTok to see more of my experience at AWARE!