Wild ARC opens it’s doors to the public this weekend, offering a rare look inside the Metchosin wildlife rehabilitation centre.
Usually only staff and volunteers are allowed beyond the front desk. But once per year tour guides show off the animal enclosures and treatment rooms. It’s a chance to see the outdoor flight pens for raptors, the pools for seabirds and a new aquatics facility in the works.
“People are always amazed by how sophisticated and large the facilities are,” Wild ARC administrator Angela Kendall said.
In the late-spring and summer, the centre takes in about 200 injured and orphaned wild animals per month for rehabilitation. But right now, the slowest time of year, there’s only about 15 animals, which are temporarily moved to a room not open to the public during the tours.
“The animals get stressed when they’re around people,” Kendall explained. “That’s why the centre isn’t usually open to public.”
But there will still be some wildlife to see. Jeff Krieger of Alternative Wildlife Solutions is bringing a red tail hawk and a gyrfalcon. Both are falconry birds, trained to sit on his gloved hands.
Additionally, Mike Mackintosh of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society is showing off his eight-year-old burrowing owl named Beaker, which he rescued and raised as a pet.
Inside the wildlife enclosures, stuffed animals are taking the place of real ones. The one-hour tours are focused on education.
“Tours are led by volunteers who work at the centre,” Kendall said. “They’ll talk about caring for the animals and what you should do if you find injured wildlife.”
The centre expects to see 1,000 visitors over March 26 and 27. Tours run every 20 minutes, from noon until 4 p.m. To ensure everything runs smoothly, tour spots must be reserved in advance.
It’s free to attend, but Wild ARC does ask visitors to bring a donation, such as animal feed, office supplies or Canadian Tire money. Book your tour at www.spca.bc.ca/visitwildarc or by calling 250-382-3919.
Volunteer at Wild ARC
During its peak months Wild ARC relies on more than 150 volunteers to care for animals.
The centre is currently recruiting new volunteers. Orientation sessions are offered throughout April and in early-May.
For descriptions of volunteer positions and to sign up, visit www.wildarc.com/help/volunteer.