Our History

Where We Started

Dr. Debbie Eskedahl started Wild and Free in 1984 in the metro area. In 1990, she relocated to Garrison, Minnesota to open her own veterinary clinic, Garrison Animal Hospital, and she brought Wild and Free with her. The program was granted non-profit status in 1993.

Initially, the entire operation was run out of the Garrison Animal Hospital, but after some time, it was necessary to expand.  Soon, the organization was able to invest in a nearby 18 acres, and an entirely separate building was constructed in 2004. The property is now fully owned by Wild and Free.

Where We've Been

Bear Pen
New UTV 2022, 2 Large

We have been fortunate enough to undertake in several expansion projects through public donations and memberships over the years. The original building consisted of three 8x10 stalls with outdoor access, a kitchen, a storage room, and a maintenance room. In the years after the building was finished, two large outdoor pens (approx. 30ftx20ft) were constructed for general use. Next came our first bear pen, which is 1.25 acres.

Soon it was determined that even more space was needed to accommodate the many white-tailed fawns and raccoons that come to us, so two more 50ftx10ft enclosures were built specifically for those species.

In 2020, construction wrapped on our 40ftx100ft flight pens, which accommodate the many eagles and raptors we see and allows them to exercise their wings before release.

2021 was a record season for us, with over 1000 total cases. This is something that we couldn't have dreamed of when the organization began, and we are so grateful for all of the support throughout the years.

Our most recent project wrapped in 2022, when we installed a second 1.25 acre bear pen, and acquired a UTV to cart supplies to the further pen.



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New Bear Pen 2022 3 Large
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New Bear Pen 2022 4 Large

Wild and Free Today

Wild and Free is the organization you know today, solely through the ongoing support of public donations, memberships, fundraising, and volunteers. We do not receive any federal or state aid. Our average annual intake is close to 1,000 cases a year, and growing, it seems. We would not be able to serve wildlife across the state without you! Thank you!

We are in the process of installing a waterfowl pond enclosure through the generosity of supporters like you, and grant funding from Partners4Wildlife. We aim to have this project completed by early June! If you would like to contribute to this project, donations can be made at any time HERE.

With the culmination of the waterfowl pond project in sight, our goal for the future is to acquire additional land for further expansion down the line. We are hoping to add a state of the art intake facility with accommodations for animal exams, public education, and intern housing. We are hoping that this next step for our organization will help us interact with the community effectively while maintaining the security and safety of the animals that are in our care.