SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) -- A local organization that rehabilitates wild animals just opened a brand new facility in South Lake Tahoe.
Tom Millham and his wife, Cheryl, have been taking in orphaned and injured wildlife for more than 40 years.
“We started out very slow and we only had really one cage at that time,” Tom told FOX40. “And eventually, we started just putting in cages as we needed them.”
But when they rehabilitated their first bird at their home decades ago, they had no idea it would lead them to where they are now.
“We just finished framing out and doing construction on seven of the cages,” Tom explained.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care just moved its first animals to the new facility three weeks ago.
“We take care of bears everywhere from Grapevine all the way up to the Oregon border. And we’ll take in eagles and hawks and owls and raccoons and bobcats and coyotes and ducks,” Tom said.
Until now, Tom and Cheryl had been rehabilitating all those animals in the backyard of their South Lake Tahoe home.
They said a big facility was always their dream but it didn’t become possible until they unexpectedly got a $3 million donation from a supporter a few years back.
It has taken the couple some time to find the perfect property to put that money to good use and they still have plenty of work ahead of them.
“We need about $2 million more to finish up the five more cages plus the one big one, the rehab center in the front,” Tom explained.
Right now, the facility is closed to the public so volunteers can do the work they need to do to get the animals back out into the wild.
But there is a way to see all the great work they do at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care in real-time. They have live webcams on their website for people to see all the animals they are caring for and they hope to one day build a sanctuary right next door so people can see their permanent residents in person.
“Because people are always coming into Tahoe and saying, ‘Hey, we want to see the bears,’ or, ‘We want to see the raccoons,’ or whatever it happens to be. And we hope to be able to give them that opportunity,” Tom said.
A lifelong passion for helping animals has become a legacy that will live on for decades to come.
“We’ve been going for over 40 years now,” Tom told FOX40. “We want to it to go for at least another 40 plus and all we’re doing is we’re giving Mother Nature a helping hand.”
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care is one of only two organizations in the state that can take in bear cubs.