It’s time to turn a little screen time into “green time”!
Wildlife Encounters has been operating in the NH Seacoast region since 2004.
Living in Rochester, Derek had become involved in and passionate about “exotic” animal rescue as a passion-driven hobby. An educator at his core with a bachelors degree in Education, having been a successful personal trainer and then worked for a time as a trainer in the technology field – he recognized an opportunity to offer unique and enriching science-based educational experiences to local schools and community organizations with some of the animals.
Today the Wildlife Encounters Ecology & Wellness Center is a private family owned nature-based educational entity that delivers 1200+ live animal educational outreach programs annually across much of the New England area.
In 2017 we were fortunate to take custody of a 77 acre former homestead and commercial farm property in the neighboring community of Barrington. The next 2 years were driven efforts to develop new USDA-licensed facilities at the Barrington location with the goal of relocating the animals from Rochester and offering on-site programming for the first time!
Our plan was APPROVED by the town in April 2020! While we were all in Covid Pandemic lockdown 🙁
All dark clouds have silver linings and as we struggled to care for the animals and survive the lockdown, we did the unexpected and opened our legacy facility to very small group private tours. It was during one of the first private tours that Derek met Jackie – and our future changed forever! A massive nature & animal lover herself, Jackie works as a paramedic, and is very passionate about both physical and mental wellness!
The opportunity to evolve:
For his entire career, Derek had looked for a way to connect his health & fitness passions with is love for animal & nature, in a way that he could share, teach and inspire! As Wildlife Encounters enters it’s 20th year in 2024, Derek & Jackie look forward to opportunity to offer you:
- Scheduled wildlife & ecology education tours / field trips featuring ambassador animals, property trails and natural features
- Staff / Board, Executive & team building (day) retreats & small group meeting space.
- On-site Birthday Party space
- Science, Arts & Culture Events
- Homeschool programs
- Wellness offerings (yoga in various forms, forest bathing, sound healing, meditation classes)
- Nature-based fitness classes & other wellness / lifestyle educational classes.
- Movie nights
- Host community pop-up Farmer’s Market
- Domestic & International retreats (off property)
- Live Animal Outreach Programs (off property)
Mission & Values
“Our mission is through educational and experiential services provide opportunity for people to learn and connect with nature, and human nature.”
Our philosophy, morality, conduct and messages focus on communicating the interdependent relationship between our three core mission components: Animals, People and Earth.
We are excited to introduce you to our dependent, non-releasable Ambassador Animals that represent a spectrum of native New England wildlife, wildlife native to other habitats across the globe, small animals commonly seen as pets, and domestic farm animal breeds.
Our dedicated staff and animals have been working together since 2002 to connect students and the public with science, conservation, nature & human nature.
Our animals live with us because they were either:
Injured in the wild and are not able to survive independently, and subsequently placed in our care through a rehabilitation facility.
Exploited by the illegal trade in wildlife and placed with us by law enforcement authorities.
Captive-bred in a US-based protected environment to participate in public education and species/biodiversity conservation efforts.
KEY to Understanding Our Animals!
- BLACK = NO CONTACT.
- GREEN = interactive, contact may be allowed at our discretion.
- Asterisk (*) = only eligible for school programs, corporate and community events where strict venue conditions are met. Generally not available for private events (i.e. birthday parties) without special approval by the Director.
- Down Arrow (↓) = little animals under 3 pounds (i.e. for the Tiny Creatures Program)
Legal restrictions prohibit public contact with many of our animals.
Some animals are retired or not offered for outreach programs
Some animals only travel with senior staff, and are only available for outreach in certain situations.
About Our Animals
Featured Sanctuary Tour or Ecology Center Species!
- NOTE: These animals do NOT participate in outreach programs or services.
- Adult African Crested Porcupine – “Domino”
- African Serval Cat – “Isis”
- Bennett’s Wallaby – “Savannah”
- Large American Alligator (6’+) – “Cajun”
- Turkey Vulture – “Ivan”
- Giant Sulcata Tortoise (100+ lbs) – “Tudor”
- Pony – “Oscar”
- Sicilian Mini-donkey – “Bambi”
- Katahdin Hair Sheep
- Dwarf Pygmy Goats
MANY MORE ANIMALS may be seen during your visit, but there is always the chance they may be away at a school, library or birthday party…
Farm animals are only able to be visited at the Barrington location.
Ambassador Animals available for Traveling Outreach Programs - as well as many on-site visitor experiences!
* Gray Fox
* Arctic Fox
* Bennett’s Wallaby
↓ Fennec Fox
North American Opossum
Brazilian “Monkey-tailed” Porcupine
South American Coatimundi
↓ 3-Banded Armadillo
Patagonian Cavy / Mara
↓ African Pygmy Hedgehog
Black-throated Monitor Lizard
Red Tegu Lizard
Argentine Black & White Tegu
↓ Solomon Island Giant “Monkey-tail” Skink
↓ Blue-tongued Skink
↓ Australian Bearded Dragon
↓ Crested Gecko
↓ Leopard Gecko
↓ Veiled Chameleon
* Burmese Python
* Granite Burmese Python
↓ Australian Carpet Python
↓ Australian Woma Python
↓ African Royal Python (Ball Python)
↓ Red-tailed Boa Constrictor
↓ California Banded Kingsnake
↓ Corn Snake
↓ Hognose Snake
↓ Russian Tortoise
↓ Hermann’s Tortoise
↓ Box Turtles (3-Toed & Ornate)
↓ Northern Snapping Turtles
↓ Alligator Snapping Turtles
↓ Red-eared Slider Turtle
↓ Yellow-bellied Slider
↓ Painted Turtle
Green wing Macaw
Blue & Yellow Macaw
White (Umbrella) Cockatoo
AMPHIBIANS & INVERTEBRATES
↓ all species in this category are under 3 lbs
Giant Marine Toad (cane toad)
African Giant Bullfrog
Malayan Leaf Frog
Australian White’s Tree Frog
Madagascan Tomato Frog
African Emperor Scorpion
Blue Feigning Death Beetles!
African Giant Millipede
Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
- NOTE – despite a lack of legal restrictions, we do not allow physical contact with extremely sensitive, or venomous species
Flemish Giant Rabbit
↓ Himalayan Lion-Maned Rabbits
Where would you like to connect with us?
Our USDA-licensed legacy facility of the last 18 years, features indoor and outdoor habitats for many of our dependent Ambassador Animals, due to the seasonality of our New England climate and the biodiversity of species in our care.
Effective September 2020, we offer small group guided Sanctuary Tours. Animal on exhibit at any particular visit will vary based on a variety of factors, including the fact that this facility also supports our Community Outreach services.
Check the On-Site Programs page for details and to come visit us!!
Our second USDA-licensed location is 8.6 miles south on Beauty Hill in Barrington. In the summer of 2017, we secured a deal to preserve the historic 77-acre Swain family farmstead, developing it into a nature preserve, endangered native species protected habitat, and our developing “Ecology & Wellness Center.”
We envision this space offering a unique science and nature-based community education experience here in the NH Seacoast region! Featuring an old historic farmhouse, a recently re-located barn, and education field at the roadside and a forest full of small ponds, vernal pools, seasonal wetlands, an upland ridge and steep hillsides with small cliffs – the old farm roads and new trails offer opportunities for endless guided immersive learning and experiences!
Neither location features a zoo, nature park or public trails. We are fully insured, as well as licensed/permitted and inspected by the USDA, US Fisheries & Wildlife, NH Fish & Game, and other local, state and federal agencies, authorities and organizations with concern for animal and environmental welfare. Learn more below in our FAQs.
Meet Our Team
The Staff and Education Team at Wildlife Encounters is a small and extremely dedicated group of teachers, naturalists, and animal care professionals that are passionate about education, helping others engage in a healthy lifestyle and understanding the natural world, while of course – helping animals in need.
Founder, Director, & Environmental Educator
Derek has been teaching science & ecology through live-animal educational programming in New England since 2002. He is known as an excellent teacher, environmental steward, and professional presenter.
In addition to being a small business owner, Derek:
- serves as the Vice-chair of the Greater Barrington Chamber of Commerce
- is involved with the annual “Peeper 5K” road race in Barrington that raises scholorship funds for students
- is a founding member of the WE-CaRE Foundation
- is a founding member and Serving Board member of the Greater Barrington Community Foundation.
Most recently, in November of 2023 Derek was selected and recognized as the 2023 Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Barrington Chamber of Commerce.
We are always looking for individuals who are skilled and want to share their passion! Feel free to connect with us anytime regarding opportunities to work with our team as a volunteer, intern or even employee!
Ambassador Animal Facility
Private Sanctuary Tours
Outreach & Educational Services
Call or contact us online took book!
In The Cloud (Virtual)
Serving Anywhere & Everywhere!
Animal Presentations – Wildlife Encounters!
Perfect for classrooms, camps, community recreation programs and more, all managed through screen sharing services like Zoom!
No. Though some of our legal permits and inspections are the same that Zoo’s are required to maintain and pass, neither our Ambassador Animal Sanctuary nor the Ecology Center & Farm School property in Barrington are zoos or public nature parks where the public can just visit unannounced and pay admission. All of our services at this time are offered by appointment / booking and are guided or instructor-led experiences. Worth noting however that the owners and some staff are however professional members of various zoological, wildlife and conservation entities and many have degrees in biology, ecology, sustainable agriculture, conservation and more.
We are licensed / permitted as necessary to import and exhibit our Ambassador Animals in the following New England states – NH, ME, MA, VT & CT. *Some animals do not do outreach, some farm animals do not leave NH, and some services are offered for a limited travel distance. Presentations offered ANYWERE online through Zoom, Google Meets, and more!
The most fundamental biological mandate of all living things is to reproduce and pass on it’s genetic traits. It is the root of all biological desires and behaviors, and the most natural “right” of all things to pursue in the attempt to ensure the survival of it’s species. The conservation of biodiversity and preservation / restoration of populations of many plants and animals, from the American Chestnut Tree to the California Condor depend strongly on well managed captive breeding programs, which we strongly support, but do not participate in directly.
We directly invested in and work daily to conserve the habitats and species that call home, our 77 acre nature preserve. Education of the public on conservation issues so they can make informed decisions with regard to land management, goods & food consumption and more is a pillar of our daily efforts. We also actively support, advocate for and network with our peers and friends with complimentary missions, from our local Conservation Commission, to our state agency, the the NWF & WWF.
Though we do not currently participate in any of the reproductive conservation efforts (AMP/SSP) for captive propagation of endangered species, we do support and advocate for them so long as they are conducted ethically and as naturally as possible. Furthermore, we fundamentally disagree with and strongly oppose the efforts by small ideologically-driven segments of society to deprive domestic and wild animals and plants of their reproductive rights – and further oppose their long term agenda of domestic animal extinction and exclusion of animals from human society.
Yes. We are fully licensed and permitted, regularly visited and/or inspected by and in compliance with: the City of Rochester, Town of Barrington, Rochester PD/Animal Control, NH Fish & Game, NH Department of Agriculture, USDA, and US Fisheries & Wildlife.
Wildlife Encounters® Logo Banner with animals – for community outreach program advertising.
Wildlife Encounters Ecology & Wellness Center – official entity logo