Newport News, VA (November 2, 2023) Today marked a significant milestone for the Virginia Living Museum as it broke ground on a new addition to its 23-acre campus: the Wild Care Center.
The “Wild Breakthrough” ceremony included The Honorable Phillip D. Jones, Mayor of the City of Newport News, alongside key figures instrumental to the project: Dr. Ashby Kilgore, President of the Museum’s Board of Trustees; Harry Wason, Advisor Emeritus and Member of the Originating Founders, Virginia Living Museum; R. Anderson Moberg, AIA, IIDA, NCARB, founding Principal, James River Architects; Ronald J. Lauster, Jr., President, W.M. Jordan Company; and Rebecca Kleinhample, Executive Director. As a symbolic gesture, these six lifted shovels of dirt to mark the official start of construction.
The state-of-the-art Wild Care Center will redefine the guest experience at the Museum by creating a literal window into the world of veterinary and preventative animal care, nutrition, and the connection between humans and our environment. Designed by James River Architects and constructed by W.M. Jordan, this innovative new 5,000 square foot facility is planned to open to the public in summer 2024.
“The Wild Care Center is a significant step forward in the Museum’s 57-year history of connecting people to nature, “said Kilgore. “It will inspire visitors to protect the natural world by giving them a deeper understanding of Virginia’s unique biodiversity and the critical importance of environmental conservation.”
Located along the Museum’s outdoor boardwalk trail, the Wild Care Center will house the Museum’s veterinary suite, animal nutrition center, and animal ambassador habitats. Large windows along a central corridor will allow visitors to observe wildlife veterinary care for the Museum’s 250 native species, showcasing the highest standards of animal welfare and inspiring future generations to pursue careers in STEM-related fields. The Wild Care Center will also host close-encounters with the Museum’s animal ambassadors, further enriching the educational experience and fostering a deeper appreciation for Virginia’s native wildlife.
“The Virginia Living Museum has been an incredible asset in Newport News since 1966, and the Wild Care Center will enhance the museum’s reputation as the premier learning laboratory in Hampton Roads,” said Newport News Mayor Phillip Jones. “Newport News is a hub for innovation, science, and technology. The Wild Care Center adds an exciting facet to the list of ways residents and visitors of all ages can exponentially increase their knowledge and enjoy breakthrough experiences in our great city.”
The Wild Care Center includes numerous sustainable and energy-conserving design features, including recycled materials, exterior glass with bird-strike deterrent features, and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) equipment for its HVAC systems.
“The Wild Care Center will undoubtedly become a vital resource for the local community, as well as visitors to our region,” said Kleinhample. “It will be an exciting opportunity to watch the work of, and engage with, professionals working in diverse scientific fields. And, it will allow us to expand our internship and externship programs for those pursuing careers in natural and medical sciences.”
“This exciting addition to the Museum is made possible by the tireless efforts of the staff and volunteers, generous donors, and the unwavering support of the local community,” Kleinhample added. “We are excited for the educational and economic impact that the Wild Care Center will bring to Newport News and the inspiration it will provide for all those who pass through its doors.”