Mission & History

Mission: Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education

Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort–AWARE Wildlife Center–rehabilitates Georgia’s injured and orphaned native wildlife and educates the community about habitat preservation and peaceful coexistence. AWARE is one of the few centers in Georgia that rehabilitates all wildlife species.

AWARE History

Late Founder Director Michael D. Ellis spent 10 years as a wildlife rehabilitator in the northwest United States before he returned to Atlanta to find one small rehabilitation center serving the area. This was surprising since metropolitan Atlanta is one of the most densely forested urban areas in the country, according to the USDA Forest Service.1 The existing center could only care for so many animals and Michael was determined to remedy this situation.

Michael with Eagle

In 1999, Michael founded the Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort Inc. (AWARE), a federally recognized 501(c)(3) organization, with the help of fellow rehabilitator Melanie Haire and a small group of concerned friends. They envisioned a center that would serve metro Atlanta and, more broadly, the Southeast Region.

With grand dreams and no money, they began work on the project. In a few months, AWARE was working with DeKalb County government to find a location for the center. After several years of searching and planning, DeKalb County and AWARE reached an agreement to use a facility on 7 acres at Arabia Mountain. With this final step, AWARE was born. The center began to accept wildlife patients in 2006.

1. Nowak DJ, Greenfield EJ. Tree and impervious cover change in U.S. cities. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening 2012; 11: 21-30.