Care, Education & Community
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Our History

In January of 2019 we officially became a program of the New England Wildlife Centers.  Our 5 acre facility located in Barnstable, MA serves as the Cape Cod branch of the organization. We work to provide the Centers’ model of free wildlife veterinary care and care-based education to our local community. To learn more click here. 



Patients Each Year

species Treated

Students reached each year


What Drives Us

Our Mission


We believe that the more people have the opportunity to experience a connection with animals and the natural world, the more they understand their individual potential to positively impact themselves, our environment, and all living things.

We value the vital role animals of all species play in the natural world, the ecology of our community, and in our own personal well-being.  We also believe in the power of kinesthetic learning – or learning by doing – to help people of all ages and backgrounds discover how they can contribute to building and maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Our programs and services provide the critical link between animals and people in order to inspire environmental awareness and to provide the skills necessary to make a significant contribution to preserving nature for future generations.


Our Staff

Zak Mertz

Executive Director

I currently serve as the Executive Director of the Birdsey Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts. We are part of the New England Wildlife Centers and run two full-service wildlife veterinary hospitals. Our model is to use the platform of wildlife care to teach students of all ages about the natural world and provide professional training experiences to wildlife rehabilitators and veterinary care professionals. We actively provide free veterinary care to wildlife rehabilitators and are dedicated to increasing the wildlife care capacity in New England through education and training. My current position affords me the opportunity to work with people and entities across the wildlife care landscape in Massachusetts.

Dr. Priya Patel, BVM MRCVS

Medical Director and Wildlife Veterinarian 

Priya’s passion for wildlife medicine and rehabilitation first started during an undergraduate internship at New England Wildlife Center (NEWC) in 2007. It was that inspiring summer that put her on the path to pursuing a career in this field. Priya graduated from the Royal Veterinary College of London in 2014 and then completed an internship in wildlife medicine and conservation at Tufts Wildlife Clinic. There she developed a specialized interest in avian medicine and surgery. She then returned to NEWC as a part-time vet and now is very excited to work full time at Cape Wildlife Center.

Robyn Rohm, CVT

Lead Veterinary Technician

Robyn is a certified veterinary technician and licensed wildlife rehabber. She graduated from Joliet Junior College in 2015 with a degree in veterinary medical technology, and moved from Illinois to Massachusetts in 2016 to pursue my dream of saving native wildlife. She has previously worked for years in emergency companion and exotic animal medicine, and completed internships at Willowbrook Wildlife Center and at the Shedd Aquarium. In her spare time she enjoys hanging out with her pets, hiking, and seeing live music.

Caryn Ritchie

Volunteer and Program Coordinator 

Caryn has worked in the field of psychiatry in an individual practice for the past 40 years. She is trained as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in psychiatric nursing, with a graduate degree from Boston College.  She is married with two adult sons, a granddaughter and a Golden Retriever. Throughout her life she has always found a way to work with and own a variety of animals.  She has volunteered at a veterinarian’s office, worked in a local zoo, raised miniature horse and dogs, worked at Wildtracks in Belize, a manatee and primate rescue and rehabilitation facility and eventually found her way to Cape Wildlife Center.

At the CWC, she began as an animal care volunteer in 2013 and in 2017 took on a more active administrative role as the volunteer coordinator, in addition to continuing with animal care.  In October 2017 she passed the Massachusetts State exam and is now a state and Federally Licensed Rehabillitator. 

Mary Botting

Administrative Assistant

Mary has been a administrative assistant in the “ for profit “ world on Cape Cod for multiple years. Previous to that she worked for many years as a clinical scientist at Miriam Hospital in Providence RI and perused her passion as a naturalist guide for MA Audubon Society  part time.A graduate of Northeastern University, Mary lives  in Yarmouth Ma with her husband and enjoys showing her two grandchildren all the wonderful nature Cape Cod holds.


Jenna Silva

Veterinary Technician 

Jenna is a veterinary technician at Cape Wildlife Center and an Animal Control Officer for Falmouth MA. She graduated from Paul Smith’s College in 2014 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Wildlife Sciences. Prior to that she graduated from Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton Massachusetts in 2010 with a concentration in Natural Resources Management. Jenna worked as a research technician with the Audubon Society and with Mass Wildlife researching various shorebird and seabird species. This fostered her love for wildlife and the outdoors.  She takes every opportunity she can to spend time out in nature.  

Jessen Swider, CVT

Veterinary Technician 

Jessen is a certified veterinary technologist who originates from the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Although it took several years to decide on a career path, Jessen finally chose to pursue a career with animals. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Veterinary Technology from SUNY Canton in 2017 and became a licensed veterinary technician through New York State. She then attended SUNY Potsdam to receive a second Bachelor’s of Science degree in biology, concentrated in ecology and evolutionary biology, as she always had an interest in and love for wildlife and the environment. Jessen completed an internship at Cornell University’s Wildlife Health Center, which solidified her interest in wildlife medicine. She relocated to Cape Cod in 2020 to be near her grandmother and join the Cape Wildlife Center team. In her spare time, she is an avid outdoor enthusiast who enjoys traveling, hiking, skiing, surfing, and searching for stranded marine life along the Cape’s coast.

Seth Andrews

Front Desk Coordinator 

A lifelong aviculturist, horseman, dog and small animal owner, Seth spent most of the last twenty years in the nursery business here on the Cape. After several years volunteering at CWC in both animal care and at the intake desk, he has joined our staff as the Center’s front desk coordinator 

Lorissa Vellone

Veterianry Technician 

Lorisa has been working as a full time technician for three years now in small animal medicine after graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Technology from Mount Ida College in 2018. After completing two internship rotations at CWC, she went on to work as a seasonal employee for some time and is now back as a technician on Sundays and couldn’t be happier working with the team once again. Her future goals include becoming a CVT and continuing to make a difference in the lives of the patients she helps care for.

LOKI - The Education Owl

Loki, is an Eastern Screech Owl who came to us as an owlet in Spring 2018. She had a missing
eye, and because she sustained this injury so young she was not able to learn to hunt.The decision was made to hand rear her to become an educational animal. Loki has visited schools, and been on Zoom videos. She is the face and guide for Loki’s education index, which can be found here! 

Thor - The Education Owl

Thor is a Great Horned Owl who was rescued by our team in the spring of 2020. He was rescued at just several days old and sustained a serious eye injury when he was taloned by one of his nest-mates. He is still visual in one eye, but has difficulties with depth perception and was not a suitable candidate for release into the wild. Thor’s bright attitude and mischievous demeanor has made him a wonderful addition to our education team.

NEWCS Weymouth Location

To learn about the rest of the NEWCS staff and our board of directors  check out our Weymouth locations website! Click here!