Following his graduation, Richard and Adele moved back to Brighton along with their current patients, which included a rough-legged hawk and several orphaned raccoons and squirrels. Two cages for birds and one for mammals, along with a storage area, were erected in the back yard using construction material that consisted of old wooden boxcar sides, trees for posts, and chain link fencing. The name TreeHouse was chosen because the first nest box used for orphaned raccoons was Adele's nephew's former tree house. Paperwork was initiated to incorporate TreeHouse as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1980. 71 patients were admitted that first year, the first edition of the newsletter "TreeHouse Droppings" was distributed, the first permanent resident arrived – a Great Horned Owl dubbed "Moose", and appeals were sent out to raise money for a building.
1981-2009 A 2,400 square foot hospital building was completed along with approximately 36 outdoor cage complexes for patients and permanent residents. An eagle flight facility was the largest cage on the property, measuring 135' in length. In 1983 TreeHouse took in the first of many veterinary and biology student interns, and in 1986 TreeHouse began to accept volunteers. Realizing this once tiny grassroots organization had long grown out of the current building, plans were put in place to find a new site in 2003.
2010 to present Property was located in February of 2010 in Dow, Illinois that fit TreeHouse's unusual needs. A grant was received from a local private foundation and the property was closed on in June 2010. Work immediately began to retrofit the three-car walk-out garage for rehabilitation, and cages have been and are currently being constructed outdoors to house permanent resident animals and those in the process of rehabilitation. TreeHouse continues to grow with the support of generous members, donors, and volunteers. As human population expands, there is now more than ever an increase in people and wildlife-based interactions. Because of this, TreeHouse is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the wildlife and community. The center offers ample opportunities for involvement. Interns from around the world have come to Dow, Illinois to learn professional wildlife rehabilitation. It is our hope to continue growing and improving our center for the animals and wildlife lovers alike for years to come.
From the endangered Prairie Chicken to Golden Eagles, to tiny orphaned opossums and a Jaguarundi, TreeHouse Wildlife Center has seen it all. As a concept, TreeHouse first appeared to co-founder Adele T. Moore and Richard H. Evans, DVM in the form of an injured adult cottontail rabbit sitting in the middle of Milton Hill Road in Alton, Illinois in 1972 ...
1972-1974 Not having a clue as to what to do – as wildlife rehabilitation centers were few and far between – Adele and Richard took the rabbit to a local veterinarian, Dr. Reed. Dr. Reed had no prior training in wildlife medicine at the time, as veterinary schools did not offer it back then. Yet he examined the rabbit, stitched up a couple of areas where the fur was torn away from the body, and helped splint the fractured front leg. It was discovered that the rabbit was blind due to a head injury, although it was unknown at the time whether it was temporary or permanent. Adele and Richard took the rabbit back home and nursed him as best they knew how. Knowing that it doesn't take much to stress out a cottontail rabbit – after all, most everything eats them -- it should not have lived through the accident, never mind the treatment and rehabilitation. Despite their lack of knowledge or experience in wildlife rehab, the rabbit recovered his sight, his leg and his skin healed, and he was soon ready for release. Upon seeing the rabbit recover and scamper away into some underbrush nearby, Adele was hooked. Realizing that there were no places available to take and care for these creatures, she and Richard decided then and there that this is what they wanted to do.
1975-1980 At that time, wildlife courses were not offered at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, and wildlife patients were not "officially" admitted at the school's clinic. Richard talked to the head of the small animal clinic at the university and asked if it would be possible to convert an unused dog ward into a wildlife ward, and that's when the first wildlife ward at U of I was conceived. This budding passion began in earnest in 1977 when orphaned critters were brought home for Adele to raise.