The small, often injured, sick or orphaned animals taken to Elizabeth’s Wildlife Center get a chance at rehabilitation and a new life in the wild.
The centre opened its doors over the weekend, allowing the public to get a sense of what it takes to save the lives of the bunnies, opossums, squirrels, “birds of every possible description”, and more that come through year round.
The centre, established in 1986, held an open house to raise awareness and funds for the care of the roughly 200 animals that are in the centre’s care each month.
Melnick said the event, which ran Saturday and Sunday “was so great.”
Melnick said the event is important because people often want to see the animals that she cares for, but explained they cannot allow people in on a more regular basis, as it is a functioning animal hospital and the presence of many people can stress the animals. She added the centre does not have the proper permits for frequent public viewing.
“It gives people a chance to see what we do.”
The shelter is run through donations from the public and the support from several veterinarians.
Last year, Melnick and local veterinarian Dr. Ken Macquisten, came together to assist a rare sandhill crane – named Bunker – after its leg was shattered by a flying golf ball on the Country Meadows Golf Course in Richmond.
Macquisten fashioned a prosthetic, and after Bunker’s story was reported in media outlets, an American company that produces prosthetic devices made one for the crane and Bunker began to convalesce at the centre.
Melnick said the crane is now at a vet clinic where it has more space, but she recently checked on Bunker, taking off the prosthetic device to see if it was working without chaffing or rubbing underneath and “it was just perfect… he’s doing great.”
Like in the case of the crane, often the impact and injury of the animals is caused by humans – or their pets.
Often the impact and injury of the animals is caused by humans – or their pets.
The centre operates on a tight budget and the special products needed to feed and care for the animals can add up. It costs roughly $1,000 per month to feed the animals.
A fundraiser – held through the new crowdfunding site BlackPress4Good – has launched to help ease the burden of expenses. The centre is seeking $6,000 – six months worth of food. Those who donate $25 or more will receive an invitation to an open house.
A second campaign aims to raise $2,500 to complete the wildlife nursery.
The campaigns will run for 60 days and will help keep the centre to accommodate the many animals in need. Each year the centre admits more than 1,000 birds and animals and about 50 per cent are fully rehabilitated and released.
“We get so many animals in, every cage is in use at our place.”
To donate visit the fundraising page.