When an injured bobcat arrived at Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation three years ago, Tiffany Lui didn't know what to expect.
"Seeing that bobcat for the first time, I got tingly," Lui says. "We had never had a bobcat before, so we had to do a lot of research and quickly figure out what to do."
Figuring out what to do is all in a day's work for Lui, who originally studied zoology at the University of Manitoba with hopes of becoming a veterinarian.
A volunteer-driven, non-profit organization, Wildlife Haven has been rehabilitating animals and educating the public since 1984. Lui started at Wildlife Haven over four years ago and is the centre's only full-time employee.
"I was working towards veterinary school, but then this job came up, and I've never really looked back since," she says.
But the bobcat was a first for the centre, which has been in business for more than 30 years.
The kitten was found in a woodpile in southern Manitoba, and with its mother nowhere to be found, Wildlife Haven had to step in.
Lui, the animal care co-ordinator at Wildlife Haven, says they wanted to ensure the animal stayed wild.
"She was very special," Lui says. "We didn't want her to imprint on humans, so we limited access to only two people, myself and an experienced volunteer."
Lui, with the assistance of volunteers, takes in more than 1,700 injured or orphaned animals each year, from injured bunnies and squirrels to birds-of-prey, foxes and even coyotes.
"My main focus as a rehabilitator is the three Rs: rescue, rehabilitate and release," Lui says. "We want to take care of those animals that are in trouble, orphaned or injured to the point where we can release them back into the wild."
When an animal arrives, Lui identifies the species, assesses the animal and begins treatment, if necessary.
She never knows what will be coming through the door next.
"When we first get an animal, we try to get as much information about the situation they came from," she says. "I also conduct visual and physical examinations to see if there's anything broken, if the animal needs rest or just needs to fatten up. We take care of them until they're healthy again."
When people find animals, whether injured or orphaned, many call Wildlife Haven for help, Lui says. Summer is the busiest time.
"In the summer, there are tons of animals out there, and because everybody is outside, people come in contact with a lot more animals, so we can get phone calls every five minutes," says Lui. "And we're open 7 in the morning until 7 at night, so that's a lot of phone calls every day."
Lui says she couldn't manage all of those phone calls and animal care without the help of Wildlife Haven's volunteers.
"Volunteers are very important," Lui says. "In the summer, I can have about 150 animals to take care of on a daily basis; if I did it by myself, I'd never manage. Volunteers are the backbone of this organization."
For the last several years, Wildlife Haven has resided in an unused, single-storey dairy barn donated by the Van Gorp family in Ile des Chenes, Manitoba, south of Winnipeg off Highway 59. However, it's a makeshift facility with no real space for public visitors.
But in early 2014, the organization entered into a 50-year community land-lease partnership with TransCanada Corp. providing access to 18 acres of land just north of TransCanada's Station 41 in Ile des Chênes.
The brand new facility, which is currently being built, will tailor to Wildlife Haven's needs, with features such as long flyways to rehabilitate large birds and space to keep predators and prey further apart.
"My hope for Wildlife Haven is to have people know to come to us instead of leaving an animal there or other drastic measures," Lui says.
"I want our name to be out there so people will constantly reach out to us so we can help as many animals as we can."