It’s time to turn a little screen time into “green time”!
Together, let’s unplug and reconnect with Nature – and Human Nature!
Operating in the NH Seacoast region in some form since 2002, today the Wildlife Encounters Ecology & Wellness Center is a private nature-based educational entity that has grown and developed to manage a 77 acre nature preserve in Barrington, NH and a USDA licensed dependent-wildlife sanctuary in Rochester.
We aim to improve globally-oriented environmental literacy, awareness & engagement to effect positive change for the environment, biodiversity and the health our community and visitors to the region.
Between our two facilities, which we hope to eventually consolidate, we currently offer private guided tour experiences, facilities that can be booked for small gatherings (such as birthdays), and regular events that we host.
In the near future we look to add Shinrin-yoku, or guided “forest bathing” experiences, nature-based yoga glamping accommodations and more!
Wildlife Encounters offers a Membership Program with an amazing range of benefits, and of course we continue the 20 year long practice of offering and delivering top-quality, professional and humane live-animal educational outreach programs across several New England states.
Mission & Values
We believe that public education through improving environmental literacy, awareness and engagement can and will facilitate a positive change in human and societal behaviors and practices that are key to the objective of living environmentally and personally responsible lives that will help conserve and protect global biodiversity while maximizing human health and quality of life.
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!
Due to legal restrictions, we are prohibited from allowing public contact with many of our animals.
BLACK = NO CONTACT.
GREEN = interactive, contact may be allowed at our discretion.
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 our standard outreach programs or services.
- Adult African Crested Porcupine – “Domino”
- African Serval Cat – “Isis”
- Bennett’s Wallaby – “Savannah”
- Large American Alligator (6’+) – “Cajun”
- Large Burmese Python (100+ lbs) – “Nimue”
- Turkey Vulture – “Ivan”
- Giant Sulcata Tortoise (100+ lbs) – “Tudor”
- Malayan Leaf Frog
- Red-eyed Tree Frog
- Pony – “Oscar”
- Sicilian Mini-donkey – “Bambi”
- Katahdin Hair Sheep
- Dwarf Pygmy Goats
- Adult Male turkey
AND MANY MORE from the list below, depending on which location you visit, and how many animals are at off-site programming at the time of your visit.
Ambassador Animals available for Traveling Outreach Programs - and if on-site are likely a part of Sanctuary Tours!
- Gray Fox *
- North American Opossum
- Striped Skunk
- Bennett’s Wallaby *
- Brazilian “Monkey-tailed” Porcupine*
- South American Coatimundi
- Brush-tailed Bettong (rat-kangaroo)
- Black-tailed Prairie Dog
- Fennec Fox
- 3-Banded Armadillo
- Patagonian Cavy / Mara
- African Pygmy Hedgehog
- Australian Lesser Flying Phalangers (sugar gliders)
- Guinea Pig
* these species reserved for school and GlobalTour outreach programs only.
- Smooth-fronted Caiman
- American Alligator
- Black-throated Monitor Lizard
- Red Tegu Lizard
- Argentine Giant 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 *
- Reticulated Python
- Australian Carpet Python
- Australian Woma Python
- African Royal Python
- Red-tailed Boa Constrictor
- California Banded Kingsnake
- Corn Snake
- Hognose Snake
- Sulcata Tortoise
- Leopard Tortoise
- Red-footed Tortoise
- Russian Tortoise
- Hermann’s Tortoise
- Box Turtles (Eastern, 3-Toed & Ornate)
- Northern Snapping Turtles
- Alligator Snapping Turtles
- Red-eared Slider Turtle
- Painted Turtle
* these species reserved for school and GlobalTour outreach programs only.
- Green wing Macaw
- Blue & Yellow Macaw
- Moluccan Cockatoo
- White (Umbrella) Cockato
AMPHIBIANS & INVERTEBRATES
- Giant Marine Toad (cane toad)
- Smooth-Sided Toads
- African Giant Bullfrog
- Malayan Leaf Frog
- Australian White’s Tree Frog
- Tiger Salamanders
- Madagascan Tomato Frog
- Red-eyed Tree Frog
- Gray Tree Frog
- African Emperor Scorpion
- Blue Feigning Death Beetles!
- African Giant Millipede
- Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches
- Dubia Roaches
- Curley-haired Tarantula
- Rose-haired Tarantula
- NOTE – despite a lack of legal restrictions, we do not allow physical contact with extremely sensitive, or venomous species
- Flemish Giant Rabbit
- Lop Rabbits
- Himalayan 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 delivering live-animal educational programming in New England since 2002. He is known as an excellent teacher, environmental steward, and professional presenter. He is a member of the Zoological Association of America, the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, and a consultant to Maine Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, among other notable positions.
Outreach Programs Office Manager, Environmental Educator & Co-Owner
Jenn is critical to our business and outreach at Wildlife Encounters. A resident of Rochester NH, she has worked with us since 2012 and especially enjoys time with and learning and teaching about our birds. Jenn handles everything from the back of the house operations to program delivery.
Social Media Manager & Environmental Educator
As of spring 2022 Jackie has started to share her passions for animals and nature by delivering small outreach programs, guiding private sanctuary tours and assisting guide event experiences at the Ecology Center property.
Jackie is a super-mom of 3 kids, is obsessed with frogs and lives in Barrington, NH
Drew has her BS in Environmental Conservation & Sustainability and splits her time with us evenly between program delivery (she especially finds reward in working with intensive needs groups) and working in-house at the Ecology Center’s facilities making sure the animals’ “downtime” is comfortable and all their needs are met!
Animal Behavior Enrichment Coordinator & Senior Environmental Educator
Jean has spent her life studying, caring for, and teaching about animals. She grew up on a dairy farm and graduated from U Mass Amherst with a BS in Natural Resource Studies. She taught middle and high school biology and zoology for over 30 years and has spent countless hours volunteering in wildlife rehabilitation and educational facilities. We are lucky to have her!
Social Media Assistant Manager, Tour Assistant, & Junior Educator
Riley helps us do it all. She has grown up with the staff and the animals at Wildlife Encounters as a part of her everyday life. You may see her supporting tours, assisting in outreach programs, and helping to groom and care for certain animals.
Ambassador Care & Enrichment Consultant
Faith has been a part of the Wildlife Encounters “family” for many years. Today working full time in the veterinary medical field, her expertise in particular in the housing, care and enrichment if our ectotherms and invertebrates is a valuable resource for our team – and we are so fortunate to have Faith’s support and assistance to support us.
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
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