Wildlife, the forgotten victims of Hurricane Harvey

During catastrophic disasters, many organizations and responders agree that animals are often the ones left behind, forgotten in the aftermath. At the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), we take this one step further with the offer of support to all animals in distress, both community animals (pets, livestock) and wildlife. The commitment to wildlife is something we feel sets IFAW apart in the international field of disaster response.

It's true that wild animals have well-honed natural instincts to flee, adjust, and survive when disasters strike, however, the scale of some disasters exceed an animal's ability to escape to safety. Hurricane Harvey’s devastating winds and rains were no match for the wildlife in its path. Trees that house birds and squirrel nests, underground dens for small mammals, and coast lines where marine life thrive were all ravaged by the storm.

Our trained teams strive to rescue and care for wildlife impacted by disasters, as each of these animals has a contribution and role to play in the community’s balance and well-being. We strive to collaborate with wildlife rehabilitators before, during and following a disaster.

IFAW is honored to support the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) who lost their facility to Hurricane Harvey. ARK rescues and rehabilitates sea turtles and marine birds found sick or injured from the coastal zone of Mustang Island and St. Joseph Island in Texas. The team worked to evacuate all of their patients prior to the storm hitting, saving dozens of animals. Staff and volunteers have not stopped saving animals injured, orphaned, or displaced from the storm. In addition, partner organizations have provided physical space for ARK to continue their life-saving work. Once in care, the animals are given what they need to recover from their trauma and begin the journey back to the wild, where they belong.

ARK is determined to rebuild, and IFAW will continue to support them with emergency grant funds made possible by the Disney Conservation Fund and an incredible network of IFAW supporters around the world.

True recovery from a disaster's aftermath is not just helping a community to return to how things were before a disaster – it’s to empower community members and animals to become healthier, stronger, and more prepared for the next crisis.

Even as Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Katia approach, we are committed to continue supporting recovery efforts in Texas and stand ready to do so for those in need anywhere, at any time.

You can follow ARK’s recovery and keep up with our disaster response work as we help animals and people rebuild after the storm.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
IFAW Veterinarian
Katie Moore, Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Deputy Vice President, Conservation and Animal Welfare
Loïs Lelanchon, Animal Rescue Program Officer
Animal Rescue Program Officer
Shannon Walajtys
Manager, Animal Rescue-Disasters
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy