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The Virginia Living Museum has long cared for hundreds of native Virginia species. Now, visitors will be able to get up close and personal with exactly what that looks like.

The Living Museum plans to open a 5,000-square-foot Wild Care Center focused on providing animal care and exposing children to what careers in biology and veterinary medicine look like.

City leaders including Jones broke ground on the new facility Thursday.

Executive Director Rebecca Kleinhample said the center will be a teaching tool.

“The vision here is a facility that is transparent,” she said.

In the new building, visitors will get to watch through windows all aspects of care for what Kleinhample calls the museum’s “ambassador animals” — rehabilitated wild animals that help kids understand the natural world. One of the animals out and about Thursday was a coyote, whose enclosure is adjacent to the building site.

The museum currently houses 250 native species, many of which will live in the Wild Care Center when it’s complete.

The new facility will also show kids STEM careers up close.

“You're basically going to see science career professionals in action,” Kleinhample said.You will be able to visually see every animal welfare exam, even a surgery, behind glass.”

She said the facility will extend a new arm of the museum’s original mission of education when founded in 1966.

“This new Wild Care Center takes us a step further… to showcase things that are both comparisons and contrast between human health and animal health and the environment,” Kleinhample said.

Kleinhample said the museum hopes to open the new facility by June.