Meet the caregiver: Brianna Vlach

Caregiver Brianna Vlach with Eagle the rat
Brianna Vlach is a champion of misunderstood animals. Whether they’re domestic, exotic or wild, she and her crew at Wild Friends give them what they need to thrive.
By Best Friends staff

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from Orange County, California.

When did you start working for Best Friends?


What brought you to Best Friends?

I'd just graduated college and I was looking to get into animal welfare however I could. I took a seasonal position at the Best Friends kitten nursery in Kanab, and once that position was up, I shifted to our Wild Friends area and been here ever since.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Reading, writing and hiking mostly! I also love to paint, even if I'm not very good at it.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I enjoy championing misunderstood and underrepresented animals, both domestic and wild. We are the department of misfits and it's a joy to teach visitors and volunteers that our oddball animals matter, too.

What would you share with someone who hadn’t ever heard of Wild Friends?

Our Wild Friends area includes three departments in one! We have our domestic and exotic adoptable animals, ranging from chickens and ducks to ball pythons and rats. We’ve even adopted out betta fish! In addition to our adoptables, we are also home to the wildlife education program here on the Sanctuary. Wild Friends holds state and federal licenses to house nonreleasable wildlife ambassadors, such as our great horned owls, ravens and California gulls. Our daily tours bring visitors to our animal enclosures to learn about our ambassadors’ cousins out in the wild and learn about promoting education and conservation to protect our native wild species. Finally, the third part of Wild Friends is our licensed wildlife rehabilitation center that treats injured and orphaned wildlife from all over southern Utah.

Every year, Wild Friends rehabilitators take in around 70 different species to our program, including eagles, pelicans, hummingbirds, ducks, robins, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits and hares, lizards and salamanders. All of these animals are either native to the area or migrating through, and many of them are animals you can see as you explore some of our trails and areas along the county road. The rehab center is closed to the public for the safety and comfort of the recovering animals there. But you can check out all the behind-the-scenes sneak peeks on our social media channels!

What would you share with someone who hasn’t yet visited the Sanctuary?

Make sure to sign up for the Wild Friends tour! We love our animals and we want to introduce them to you and show their wonderful and unique personalities!

If you can’t make the tour in person, you can enjoy a video tour with me.

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Photo by Molly Wald