Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue

About Us

Mission Statement

The mission of FKWR is to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife and to educate the public so that everyone is made aware of the importance of respecting all life and keeping the environment safe and clean for present and future generations.

We specialize in wildlife but, in emergencies, rescue domestic/exotic species that are abused, abandoned, stray, or cruelty cases, often in collaboration with other animal rescue organizations. We will not turn away any critter in need; we care for them until their official rehabilitators can collect them.

We exist to care for those who need special attention and to ease their suffering as soon as possible. We exist to speak for those who cannot speak.


FKWR has established an impressive if modest sized rehabilitation facility where there are aviaries for housing sick and injured birds, flight cages (two with concrete pools for wading birds), facilities for other species of wildlife, and regular and intensive care facilities including diagnostic and remedial capabilities in the hospital.


FKWR has become the accepted rescue/rehabilitation organization in the Lower Keys and handles emergency calls from all local citizens and agencies, including the Florida Marine Patrol, Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, Mosquito Control, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Marine Sanctuary, and Stand Up For Animals which operates animal shelters in Marathon and Big Pine Key. Additionally, Bell South and Keys Energy cooperate by using their high-wire equipment to rescue critters on high poles and to remove thousands of feet of bird-threatening monofilament fishing line draped over bridges and utility lines. Maya is assisted by area veterinarians who offer professional advice, refer emergency calls to her, accept displaced or disabled wildlife for temporary care, and perform specialized surgery. Cooperative relationships with other Keys rescue organizations allow us, when necessary, to transport “patients” to their facilities for special needs or use of equipment not yet available at the FKWR hospital.

Board of Directors

Maya Totman

maya-totman--with-wundaman's-heronMaya Totman was born in Croatia on May 7, 1954.  She grew up on a family farm where she learned to care for the usual farm animals including cows, horses, dogs, cats, chickens, and turkeys.  At age 6, her grandmother taught her some of the basics involved in caring for injured and orphaned birds.  At this young age, she discovered she had a talent and a love for helping some of natures most frail creatures. Maya earned a degree from The college of Nursing in Zagreb, Croatia, in 1973.  From Croatia, she moved to Africa and later to England.  She completed the student nursing program at St. James Hospital, London, and became a State Registered Nurse in 1980.  In 1987, she took a post in the Middle East where she met the American doctor, David Rumple.  He was working with Peregrine falcons, and Maya spent her free time learning falcon husbandry and some of the basics of falcon diseases and improving feather conditions.  During the Iraqi-Kuwaiti war, she met her husband, Paul Totman, who was in the U.S. Navy.  In 1994, they moved to Key West, his new duty station. In  Key West, Maya joined the Key West Wildlife Rescue doing husbandry and rescue work.  As well, she established a professional relationship with Laura Quinn of the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier and continued to learn the nuances of wildlife rehabilitation.  In February 2000, Maya’s dream, Exotic and Wild Bird Rescue of the Florida Keys, became operational on Big Pine Key as a non-profit center for the rescue and rehabilitation of pet and wild birds.  The location was chosen to fill a void in a section of the Keys which had no convenient avian rescue center.  In 2007, the name of the organization was changed to Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue to more accurately reflect the work being done, namely rescuing and rehabilitating all species of wildlife in the Lower and Middle Key Initially, Maya worked a part-time job to bring in additional funds for the rescue center, but as it grew, she was forced to quit.  Maya now spends 12-14 hours each day, 7 days a week, caring for abandoned and wild birds, making runs to collect injured birds, and traveling to other avian rescue center and veterinarians, a 60-174 mile round trip, to secure the diagnostic information (such as x-rays for broken bones) necessary for the proper care and speedy recovery of her charges, special laboratory work and major surgeries. Initially, Maya worked a part-time job to bring in additional funds for the rescue center, but as it grew, she was forced to quit.  Maya now spends 12-14 hours each day, 7 days a week, caring for abandoned and wild birds, making runs to collect injured birds, and traveling to other avian rescue center and veterinarians, a 60-120 mile round, special laboratory work and major surgeries. Initially, Maya worked a part-time job to bring in additional funds for the rescue center, but as it grew, she was forced to quit.  Maya now spends 12-14 hours each day, 7 days a week, caring for abandoned and wild birds, making runs to collect injured birds, and traveling to other avian rescue center and veterinarians, a 60-120 mile round trip, to secure the diagnostic information (such as x-rays for broken bones) necessary for the proper care and speedy recovery of her charges. In addition, Maya has become actively involved in providing educational programs which strive to bring about public awareness of the hazards faced by birds as a result of their coexistence with humans here in the Florida Keys.  Brochures and flyers are made available at public places and personally handed out on beaches (to mitigate trash problems), bridges (to educate fishing people about the hazards of monofilament line to wading birds), and other venues for public gatherings.  Presentations are made at various meetings such as the Audubon and Discovery programs as well as to informal groups at RV sites and fishing lodges. Education of children has become paramount in importance, and Maya does presentations in schools and to visiting groups such as the YMCA, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts.  Change is often difficult for adults, but education of children will establish the foundation upon which our future depends.  Maya’s program focuses on interactive education, thus making children participate so that the material being presented is reinforced.  Participants are asked to write and mail letters about what they learned, and when possible, they are surprised by an article in a local newspaper.  This program is ongoing and will last indefinitely as the need will always exist

Paul Totman

paul-totman-rel-of-pied-billed-grebesPaul Arthur Totman was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, on June 20, 1954.  He grew up on a family farm of 25 acres in Billerica, MA, where he learned to care about injured animals.  His father taught him about the importance of caring for the environment and the necessity of keeping their farm clean and green. Paul is a graduate of the Engineering College in Bradford, MA.  He joined the United States Navy in 1987.  In the Navy, he was an expert in Oil Spill Response and Hazardous Waste Management.  He has managed major cleanups of coastal waters and land.  His duties also include inspecting all type of ships for potential oil spills and other problems which might cause environmental damage.  He has developed excellent working relationships with Navy personnel and civilian agencies such as the U.S. EPA and contractors. In 1991, Paul was awarded a Medal of Heroism by President Bush for rescuing two boys, ages 10 and 11.  The children were in the ocean and being pulled by a riptide when Paul jumped from a fishing pier 50-feet high to save them.  He has been awarded numerous other medals, certificates of achievements, and awards throughout his career. In 1991, Paul was awarded a Medal of Heroism by President Bush for rescuing two boys, ages 10 and 11.  The children were in the ocean and being pulled by a riptide when Paul jumped from a fishing pier 50-feet high to save them.  He has been awarded numerous other medals, certificates of achievements, and awards throughout his career.

DVM Sam Bacos

dvm-sam-bacos-with-white-pelicanDr. Backos graduated in 1980 from Michigan State University with a degree in Veterinary Medicine. After earning his degree, he worked for the Maryland State lab for six years as a pathologist for the poultry industry. It was during this time that his interest in pet birds heightened and he moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to open an exclusive exotic bird practice in 1986. In his early years he not only worked in a traditional veterinary office, he also traveled to quarantine stations throughout Dade County caring for imported birds. In addition, he took house calls and worked as a consultant to some of the largest breeding facilities in the United States. Although Dr. Backos no longer makes house calls, he still acts as a consultant for many of the top breeders in the USA. He continues to be a fully devoted veterinarian, going beyond the call of duty by providing emergency care on weekends, evenings and holidays. On January 17, 1995, Dr. Backos became a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) Avian Practice. As one of the few Board Certified Avian Practitioners in South Florida, his goal is to see that all his clients are informed and responsible pet owners, insuring the quality of life and longevity of each and every bird he cares for. In 1990, Dr. Backos moved the clinic to Deerfield Beach where he has continued to offer his quality of life and longevity of each and every bird he cares for.

Stuart Garrison

stuart-garrison-release-of-turkey-vultureStuart Taylor Garrison was born in Key West, Florida, on August 16, 1942.  He received his education in military schools and spent his career as an Engineer of Broadcast Transmitters and associated equipment.  He also was involved in commercial aviation. Stuart was always passionate about the protection of animals, and now retired, he is an active participant in the operations of the rescue center, fielding phone calls, assisting with rescue and rehabilitation efforts, and participating in educational programs conducted by the organization

Amy Jones

amy-jones-and-todd-jones-release-of-ospreyAmy Jones is a long time twenty two year resident of Monroe County, Florida. She was born in Massachusetts and literally grew up in the woods.   From an early age Amy was an animal lover extraordinaire. She has been rescuing injured creatures great and small her whole entire life. . Her passion for nature and to make the planet a kinder gentler place is insatiable. Amy was also a German Shepherd foster mom, having fostered countless puppies and many sleepless nights, for years. She is a rescue coordinator, public relations expert, and ambulance driver for Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue INC. She currently lives with her husband, Deputy Sheriff Todd Jones, who also assists in rescues. They live on a piece of paradise in Big Pine Key, Florida in Monroe County.

JoAnn Knoss

joann-knoss-with-baby-fawnLegal Secretary – Medical Office Administration – Retail Office Administration – Customer Relations – Working with Public – Hospital Support and Administration Assistant  Roles –Army Reserve military Police, Law Enforcement Personnel Administration – Wild Life Volunteer – Nurse’s Aide Training – Basic Computer Support – Pharmacy Technician. Secret Clearance – Six Time Army Commendation Medal Awarded – Three Times Army Achievement Medal – Staff Sergeant Rank Supervising Others – Ten Years of Specialized Army Training in Administration – Military Police I am a people person who enjoys working with others and the public and have had an active army career which has proven me to be reliable, punctual, and can be depended on to work with others and learn new skills quickly.   I have been married 26 years proving stability and commitment and enjoy caring for animals and work with several volunteer organizations to promote environmental awareness and nature conservatory. High School, 1974 Graduate from New Hartford, New York  Medical Office Operations St. Petersburg, FL.  Technical Training, 1984 Diploma,  Nursing Assistant Program 1986 – Various Technical Schools for Computer Applications and Writing, English and Grammar and Basic computer, St Petersburg Junior College,  FL.

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