The Central Texas Wildlife Center in Belton has a passion for aiding any abandoned, injured and distressed wildlife.

“We opened the center because there is no one to help the game wardens and all the wildlife here,” Cassondra Looker-Locklear, who spearheads the Central Texas Wildlife Center, told the Telegram. “We take in injured and orphaned animals that are native to Texas, and we rehabilitate them … so we can release them back into the wild as fast as possible.”

Each year, the Central Texas Wildlife Center — which launched five years ago — sees a vast variety of animals, including bobcats, beavers, bunnies, raptors, squirrels, deer and owls.

“We have a baby great horned owl named ‘Ed’,” Looker-Locklear said.

“We’ve had him since he was in a cracked egg … and we’re going to try and find an educational program for him to join. We’ve tried very hard to keep him wild but it hasn’t worked very well. He knows that humans provide food.”

However, a majority of the animals that the Central Texas Wildlife Center takes in do return to the wild.

In August, four bunnies were released, according to the Central Texas Wildlife Center.

Looker-Locklear — who noted how her nonprofit organization cares for several hundreds of animals annually — said she is continuously amazed by her colleague’s dedication to rehabilitating animals, like Ed, back to health.

“We don’t get government funding or grants … so my people literally dig into their own pockets,” she said. “These people are just flat out amazing.”

Looker-Locklear said donations — which can be mailed to 4592 Kimberly Drive in Belton — are encouraged and greatly appreciated.

“When people bring us an animal, they sometimes bring us a donation to go along with it,” she said. “That’s so helpful because raising animals is not cheap. Any little bit helps.”

Donations also can be made via PayPal to @kac33ie or via Venmo to @Cassondra-Looker-Locklear, according to the Central Texas Wildlife Center.

“Being a nonprofit organization, we exist solely on your donations,” the Central Texas Wildlife Center said in a Facebook post.

But fundraising aside, the most challenging part of the job for Looker-Locklear is saying goodbye.

“Before we release them, we break apart from them,” she said. “We teach them not to rely on us and that’s the hardest.”

Residents that come across abandoned, injured, or distressed wildlife can call the Central Texas Wildlife Center at 254-702-0042.