Spring 2019
Gifts at Work

The Raptor Center

Step inside The Raptor Center on the U’s St. Paul campus and you’ll be immersed in the story of a bird that’s been brought in for care. You’ll learn how it was injured (and what we can do to prevent such injuries), then follow it through diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. Engaging the center’s 16,000-plus annual visitors in such stories is the mission of the newly renovated Susan P. Wilder Visitor Center, made possible by a lead gift from her husband, Bob Wilder. 

Photography by Steve Niedorf


Kelly Matsuoka is one of more than 300 volunteers who keep The Raptor Center running. Volunteers help in many ways including res-cuing, transporting, and caring for birds; leading tours; and educating the public.

Right: An interactive display takes you through a bird's journey after it arrives at the Raptor Center.


The Sapakie Family Discovery Wing, built with a lead gift from Sidney and Linda Sapakie, provides space for programs and lectures. Raptors such as Bubo, the great horned owl, are often the main attraction at such events.


More than 60 percent of The Raptor Center’s annual budget comes from support from the community. “We are so grateful for the many donors who believe in our mission, care for our world, and take action to create change,” says Executive Director Julia Ponder.

Right: Some of the contributors who've made the new visitor center a reality.


Not all raptors brought to the center can go back to living in the wild. Some, like Pi, a bald eagle, have been overly exposed to people. Gifts help support these “education ambassadors” as they live out their lives in specially designed habitats.


Donor support helps cover the cost of educational programming for adults and children. Participants learn about raptors and other birds from volunteer education specialists like Louis Kamiri and handle artifacts such as feathers, wings, and skulls.

Right: Continue down the hall and learn about raptors' migration patterns.


You'll find surprises throughout the center.