RIAS is a Recovery and Research Centre of Wild Animals, located in the wonderful Parque Natural da Ria Formosa and is the only one in the Algarve and one of the few in Portugal. With the help of volunteers, employees and many donations, RIAS has the facilities to help injured animals to recover and return to their natural habitat.

“Our recovery rate is 49 percent and that’s a good number, we can’t forget we sometimes have animals that come to us that have already died. When we find, for example, a seagull on the beach, we don’t know how many days it has been there”, explained Vera Marques, responsible for the department of environmental education.

In addition to recovering animals at risk and giving a huge contribution to animal research; RIAS also tries to take an active role in environmental education. Inside the educaton room where she received me they also do “activities with schools and kids from homework club groups”, she said. However, it is not just children who can visit RIAS. Everyone (children and adults) can visit it, even if it is not to deliver an animal, the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, where RIAS is located, is open and has free entrance for residents of the Algarve, with proof of residency.

What can I do if I find an injured wild animal?
Firstly, “we ask if the person is able to pick up the animal, some animals are difficult to handle. Then we give some advice”, she said. Avoid any noise, use a towel to take it and afterwards put the animal into a cardboard box with small holes, if it’s possible”, are some of the suggestions given on RIAS’ website.

“From the moment a person is able to take the animal; they can bring it to us directly in the RIAS centre, or leave it at the nearest police station. We have a deal with guardians of nature and they pick up these animals twice a week and bring them to us”, she explained.

However, if the person could bring the animal directly to RIAS as soon as possible, it will make the animal more likely to survive and avoid its suffering for more days.

Sometimes, “we have people who bring us the animals even from Portimão and Lagos, which makes us feel grateful, we try to point out that the quickest way for the animal to start being treated is to bring it here to avoid suffering for several days, but we also understand how difficult it is to come from so far”, she said.

All wild animals have a space at RIAS
RIAS receives all type of wild animals. Vera Marques said: “we have more than 100 seagulls at the moment, seven vultures and also we have a bonelli’s eagle, rooks, storks and owls”, are some examples. Related to mammals, we have a badger and bats. Also reptiles - chameleons, snakes (not very common) and sometimes they come to us without any wound, but instead because people only are afraid. Then we evaluate and release it”, she explained.

This Christmas offer an animal support
“Every year, RIAS and CERVAS (Ecology, recover and surveillance Center), together promote a Christmas campaign with the goal of helping both centers. Instead of buying a usual physical gift, “we appeal to the charitable side of people. With the Christmas campaign we try to offer people some more creative ideas that support our causes”.

The money from donations will cover food and medical care for an individually species. So, you can choose what kind of species you want to sponsor”, she said.

Then when the animal is well and ready to return to its natural habitat, the person will be told and sometimes it may even be the person who sets the animal free and back to Nature, whenever this is possible. Being a Sponsor and to support a species can only cost as little as €20. From taking wild animals when found, volunteering, donations and sponsorship – there are many ways to help.