Animals such as this sea otter have been nursed back to health at the B.C. SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre in Metchosin. Wild ARC is hosting its annual open house April 2 and 3.

Take a rare peek at critter care in Metchosin

Spaces are limited, reserve place for Wild ARC tour soon

One weekend in April offers a behind the scenes glimpse into the wonderful world and work at the BC SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre.

Wild ARC in Metchosin opens its doors to the public for its annual tours the weekend of April 2 and 3. The centre helps raise orphaned wildlife, heal injured animals and treat a wide range of wildlife illnesses.

The centre cares for a diverse range of species that run the gamut from baby hummingbirds to river otters to ocean-faring fowl, said Wild ARC assistant manager Heather Schmitt. Each species requires specialized housing, care and nutrition that the centre is able to provide in one multi-faceted facility.

“We’re so proud of the work we do here,” Schmitt added.

“We look forward to the open house as a great opportunity to showcase the centre and the work we do.”

Wild ARC relies on 200 dedicated volunteers, with about 50 of them assisting with the open house. “They are an amazing group and we couldn’t do this work without their support,” Schmitt said.

The facility is normally restricted to staff and volunteers, to enable animals to recover with minimal distraction in preparation for a return to the wild. The tours offer the public the opportunity to see wildlife rehabilitation in action.

Wild ARC experienced a 20-per-cent jump in patients last year over 2014. The numbers may increase yet again, with staff anticipating another busy spring and summer season this year.

Members of the centre’s volunteer crew will take small groups on a tour through the 10-acre site, which treated more than 130 different species in 2015.

No wild animals are available for viewing to reduce the potential for stress on the patients in care, but a live educational raptor will be on site.

Admission is free, but donations of food and supplies to assist with critter care are gratefully accepted. A wish list of suggested items is online at spca.bc.ca/branches/wild-arc/ and will be e-mailed to people who register for the open house.

The tours take place between 1 and 4 p.m. at the Wild ARC, 1020 Malloch Rd. Reservations are required and can be made at spca.bc.ca/tourwildarc. The number of guests is limited to 1,000, so Wild ARC staff advise booking well in advance.

reporter@goldstreamgazette.com

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