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Conservators Center

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animal-Related, Animals, Education, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Zoos & Aquariums

Mission: The Conservators Center reconnects people with wildlife by introducing visitors to rare, threatened, and endangered species—up close and personal. The conservancy’s animal residents serve as ambassadors for their wild counterparts: You are more likely to become invested in these species after you meet them and learn about their inherent value. Looking a tiger in the eye, hearing lions call to one another, howling with wolves, and meeting a binturong for the first time will forever change your perspective. You protect what you know.

Results: We provide permanent homes to dozens of exotic animals; we also provide an exotic animal husbandry internship for students around the country and the world; we reach thousands of visitors and program recipients each year; we've critically supported overseas conservation programs in Chile and Vietnam.

Target demographics: Wildlife and wildlife professionals

Direct beneficiaries per year: About 80 animals on site, about 16,000 visitors and program recipients, local and national government agencies who need assistance with emergency placements

Geographic areas served: United States

Programs: Educational tours and events for the general public. Internships for college students. Workshops and activities for wildlife professionals and educators. Collaboration with North Carolina State University Center for Veterinary Medicine's Carnivore Team to provide students with real-world learning experiences. Home for wild animals who need to move from their current situation—this includes retirement/rehoming from zoos and other facilities; owner surrender of a wild animal for which they cannot provide care; and assistance to authorities who have confiscated wild animals from inappropriate homes.

Community Stories

40 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I would rate the Center even higher if I could. Positively MAGICAL! I go every year at least once a year (for my birthday) and shoot for more visits throughout the year. Go for the Twilight Tour-the nocturnal tours provide the opportunity to view most, if not all, of the animals alert and reactive. No tour is the same, the guides are SO knowledgeable (LOVE Kevin and Frank) and just take my word for it...when there's a dusting of stars in the sky, the lions are chuffing, and the wolves begin to howl...there's no place quite like it anywhere on Earth.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great experience with the animals and staff! I highly recommend for anyone who loves big cats or wants to get involved in animal husbandry!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first visited the Center for a tour back in 2014 and immediately knew I was "home". Being interested in zoology, the Center became my place to learn and grow. I was surrounded by positive people who wanted nothing more than to create a safe environment for these animals to thrive and a place for the public to connect with creatures they would otherwise not know about. I volunteered in animal care and eventually became a member of the gift shop staff (though, I have sense left to pursue my animal science degree).

The Center has a fabulous tour program that is catered to all ages, a spectacular internship program for those in the animal science field, and is always accepting volunteers for all sorts of projects.

If you love animals, this is the place to go! It's kind of out in the boonies, but it is worth the drive. Whether you come for a tour, a special event such as Girl Scout Day, or you are a volunteer, this place will immediately hold a special place in your heart.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have visited this place often. First time was life changing. Now I just need to go back to see old friends and maybe a couple of new ones. To see large cats so close and to hear them "oof" is something you will not experience anywhere else.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

A 20-year old tiger looks at you from five feet away and 'chuffles' to let you know that he approves of you. A lion 'oofs,' after being prompted by a human who loves him, and 15 other lions answer to convey that all is well in their world. An adorable binturong climbs across the top of her cage upside down to remind you that you should bring her a banana. A chubby but adorable leopard stalks you from one end of her large compound to the other end hoping for a treat. A caracal trills and shows you her 'best side' profile as you pass by her with your camera. A serval bonds with his happy human by marking her forever with his scent and a wolf shows one of his human pack members by laying his head in her lap.

Each of these beautiful animals, and the people who care for and support them, are the reason I volunteer my time and talents to the Conservators Center in Burlington, NC.

The center is not a zoo and is not supported by any government funds. It is a privately owned and funded by donations and, quite simply, love. A few dedicated staff members work tirelessly to coordinate animal care, promotion and publicity of the animals and the center, and the day-to-day business of running a center that cares for over 80 animals who have been rescued or retired to their care. Even more volunteers, like myself, give countless hours to prepare food and feed the animals, clean the animal living areas and provide enrichment for the animals to keep them engaged and happy, guide tours of the center's animals for the public and tell their stories, socialize the animals and show them love, and so much more.

I first met the animals and people of the Conservators Center when I took a tour with 100 schoolchildren. I was in awe of the volunteer tour guides who answered every child's question and introduced us to animals I recognized, like tigers and lions, and animals I had never heard of like binturongs, caracals and genets. They told us the backstory of every single animal. We learned that one of their bobcats came to them after being mistaken for an injured domestic cat and that their employees rescued a 'mutt' after driving hundreds of miles to pick up a rare New Guinea Singing Dog and discovering he was only a mutt. We met lions and tigers living in a 'mixed pride' because the founders of the center rescued the animals when another facility was shut down and, while they were unprepared to take on so many animals, they creatively found ways to make it work so that the animals could live happily and with an extraordinary quality of life.

I knew from the first day that I wanted to spend time at the Conservators Center and work with them on their mission to reconnect people with wildlife. In the past year, I've volunteered many hours on nights and weekends to help out in any way that I could. My favorite event was when students from the school for the blind visited the center. Volunteers and staff members made sure that each student learned as much as they could about the animals through their senses other than vision. We shared casts of pawprints to show the students how large the animals were. We took them on a tour and prompted the lions and wolves to rumble the earth with their roars and howls. We shared stories of the animals that brought them to life for these sweet students who could not see them.

The Conservators Center is my 'happy place.' Every chance I get to volunteer my time there is time well spent. Each tour that I drive a golf cart for a disabled person to see the animals and hear their stories brings joy to my heart. I hope to share the amazing animals and their two-legged friends who love them at the Conservators Center with as many people as I can. I hope that you'll visit them in person to learn how amazing they are but the next best thing is their website at www.conservatorscenter.org where you can learn the story of how they came into being and virtually meet some of the most amazing animals on the planet!

Review from #MyGivingStory

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My first tour to the center was in 2014 with a group of summer camp kids. From the moment I set foot on the property, I knew I had found my "happy place." The experience of meeting the animals up close while hearing personal stories of each animal from tour guides is so refreshing and so different from a zoo. Seeing lions, tigers and leopards from 10 feet away was amazing and I enjoyed meeting and falling in love with binturongs, genets, singing dogs, Geoffrey's cats, jungle cats and others I was seeing for the first time. The staff and volunteers are all so committed to the animals and it shows every moment of every day. I especially love that the health, safety and emotional well-being of the animals always comes first at the Conservators Center. The staff and volunteers are so in-tune with the animals - they know what makes them happy and when something is "off" that they need to watch. I never know WHO is more excited by new items gifted by wish list donors - the animals or the humans who get to see the animals enjoy them.
My love for the center and the animals led me to begin my volunteer journey with this group in August 2014 and I am so thankful that I became involved. Every time I am at the center I learn something new and amazing from the veteran staff. Each staff member makes sure the volunteers feel appreciated and there is always something worthwhile to learn and do.
To be onsite and hear the wolves and coyote howl, the lions "oof" and the singing dogs sing is not something that can fully be explained in words - it's a feeling like no other that simply has to be experienced. The center's mission is to reconnect people with wildlife - they've done that and so much more for me. I highly recommend a visit to the center!!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have learned so much by volunteering at this wonderful place. The entire staff is welcoming, friendly and extremely knowledgeable, with an unparalleled love for the animals in their care. The facilities are well-kept and the animals are obviously happy in their environments. I particularly love the experience of seeing first-time visitors' faces when they hear lions "oof," and their joy and wonder watching binturongs, an animal they most likely have never seen before. This place has changed my life for the better and I'd like to believe it does for almost everyone who visits or volunteers.

3 Kim_154

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've spent thousands of hours over the last 7 years volunteering in all areas at this amazing Center, working behind the scenes in animal care, building secure habitats, raising young animals, and leading public tours. My husband and I began volunteering because we love animals, but we stayed because we saw how incredibly HAPPY the animals are in their lives here, how KNOWLEDGEABLE the founders and staff are about all aspects of captive management and larger conservation issues, and how ETHICAL the business and care practices are at all levels. This is a truly special place. So many reviews mention the passion, the respect and care, and the beautiful relationships that they see when on tour. Speaking from the inside, all of this is very real -- a reflection of the heart of the Center. I'm so happy it's visible to visitors; I'm even more honored to have been a part of it for such a long time.

1 cjc3245

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Been volunteering for 6 years and I am a lifetime adopter of TIGERS! It's the most awesome place for visitors to be up close and personal to the animals there.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering for about 4 years now -- simply sit on the sidelines and do the work that nobody sees -- but have an incredible opportunity to visit with the amazing creatures who make it their home. Of course, with some you establish an incredible bond -- that will last the rest of my life. All of them you love. Some you lose, like my special girl Tigra Tiger. But there is always the opportunity to make another very special. My new special girl is Shelby Tiger. We are working on it :)

1 Derek8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My wife and I got addicted to this facility back in February. Since then, we are now Lifetime Adopters of 2 beautiful kids (a tiger and a binturong), volunteer for animal care/construction or tours every saturday and I have started a website called savethebints.com. This facility/family is the most incredible experience of my life so far. They have become our home away from home and our only wish is that we could volunteer more and live closer.

1 George26

Volunteer

Rating: 4

After participating in one of their tours we were hooked!! The staff is exceptional and they have a large variety of small and large animals. We signed up to volunteer and have enjoyed working on various projects. It has been a very rewarding experience.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been to the conservators Center 2 times and plan to go back again and again. The animals are wonderful to see. The lions are my favorite, especially Arthur. The tour guides have been great at explaining everything, answering questions and getting the animals to interact with the people.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was an intern this past summer with the Conservator's Center, and it was an amazing experience. The attention and care that the keepers show to the animals is amazing and inspiring to see. It's difficult to not fall in love with the Center, and it is the type of experience that stays with you long after you leave.

1 Connie25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm not a member, nor really, a volunteer, but there's no field for someone such as I, one who deeply loves seeing an animal in such great surroundings. Also, I'm too poor even to be a donor. Were I not working on a free computer, I couldn't even tell you this!

I CAN tell you I enjoy the photos posted on FaceBook, & sometimes make comments. This makes me happy, because when I was physically able, one of my greatest joys was to visit =good= zoos, & see animals in realistic environments--not just bored silly in bare cages. Conservators Center obviously treats animals with love, as well as going well beyond their bare physical needs. These beautiful creatures obviously feel loved, & have more freedom than ALL zoos I've ever seen! It heals my heart to see this, & the value the animals receive seems priceless. Conservators Center DESERVES recognition for what they do!

1 Annie21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer and i am a lifetime adopter of one of the lions at the center.
All the animals are well taken care of and look so happy to be in a better environment. Most of the animals at the center came from not so good conditions and the center took them, and gave them a better place to live.
The conservators center is an amazing place to visit and i recommend everybody to visit. It is definitely an experience of a lifetime.

1 Holly12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

How can you not just fall in love with the Conservators Center. From the moment you step on the grounds it is amazing. To be so close to these amazing animals and know they are loved and care for. I am honored to be able to volunteer here and will be picking that back up soon. It has helped me get through deployments with my husband gone. There is no better place to give your time and energy to to volunteer and know these animals are benefiting from it.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for over a year and it is amazing!! The feeling you get from knowing you gave of your time from the heart and see how the animals benefit is beyond!! From helping build and new part of a cage to raising platforms and knowing it is being done with asking nothing in return but the fact that you have put a small print of your own...WOW!! People need to not only take time to visit, but if you can spare a few hours a month, it is worth so much more then you know. The staff, volunteers and parents are amazing!! Go visit and you will be HOOKED for life. The sounds and experience is something you will have the rest of your life, the time you volunteer the animals will have for the rest of their lives!!!

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1 Violet H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Conservators Center is such an amazing place. They care so much for the animals that they have rescued. They also help and give advice to other rescues around the world. I feel at home there and the animals are very well loved and cared for. It is just amazing.

Previous Stories
1

Donor

Rating: 5

This charming facility cares for animals that have been pets and other stuff that were improperly cared for. They care so much about the animals, that the animals live longer than in zoos. They allow people to be close to the animals and teach people about how majestic they are. I have never felt so close to a group of people and animals.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a lifetime adopter and volunteered at the Conservators' Center yesterday for the first time at Pumpkin Prowl. What an amazing experience! I didnt realize the incredible amount of work that goes into putting on an event like that for the public. The staff and the other volunteers worked tirelessly to get everything ready. After helping to distribute the pumpkins that were going to be scented for the animals, I was stationed by Mufasa's pride for the event itself, which also meant I was near my adopted girl Willow lioness for a few hours. I wouldnt trade that experience for anything!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first visited Conservators' Center in February of this year and by March, I was volunteering at least once a week. It is so amazing to hear the stories of where these animals came from, to see how happy they are, and to see their individual personalities. It is evident they are well cared for and so loved by everyone there. No matter what kind of impact my work there has on the animals, I think the impact the animals have on me is at least 10 times greater. It is a place that any animal lover should visit because they will just fall in love with both the center itself along with each and every animal there.

Glenn M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Conservators Center is a wonderful place for volunteers, visitors and animals alike. The staff work tirelessly for the good of each and every animal in their care. The tours are entertaining, educational and thought-provoking, and do much to raise awareness of the plight of captive and threatened animals. Many of their resident animals had nowhere else to go, or were kept in appalling conditions prior to being rehomed at the CC site. But all have found comfort and happiness in the care of the owners, staff, volunteers and adoptive parents of the Conservators Center. They have done so much with such limited financial support. No animal lover could leave this place untouched, and most return to visit again and again - drawn not just by the charming animals, but by the atmosphere of sincere devotion and selflessness that pervades the organization.

Kasey T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working with the Conservators' Center as a volunteer since I was in college, where I heard about them from my Professional Writing & Rhetoric mentor. The staff allowed my classmates and I to use our writing skills to help them promote their work, and in return, we learned more of what it meant to write for a nonprofit. Many of my classmates were so touched by that experience that they now work at other nonprofits around the globe, but I went right back to the Center after I graduated and continued volunteering. Every single time I come down the driveway and hear the wolves howling and the lions oofing as I get out of my car, I feel so honored that I'm able to dedicate my time at such an incredible place. It is my job to make other people feel as amazed by the Conservators' Center as I am... but truth be told, the animals do that job far better than I ever could.

2 Rebecca33

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is one one my favorite places on the planet. The animals are so peaceful and at home and loved here. And the people give everything they have to make sure the animals continue to feel that way. I was introduced to the Center by a work colleague. My first tour was a photography tour that I gave my husband as a birthday gift. Since then. I've been on at least 30 tours - I've brought groups, students at the college where I work, etc. I've also done three service learning courses with the Center as our partners so students are working directly with these passionate people for the good of the animals. I'm a lifetime adopter of Ugmo lioness and will be starting as an outreach volunteer soon. You won't find a place where people care more about their animals and their happiness.