Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre unveils state-of-the-art rescue facility

Sick, injured and orphaned animals have a new hospital where they can heal before going back to the wild — a state-of-the-art rescue campus at the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre in southeastern Manitoba.

New buildings allow animals to heal without human contact

Executive director Zoé Nakata stands in front of the new Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre during its grand opening weekend in Manitoba. (Wendy Jane Parker/CBC)

Sick, injured and orphaned animals have a new hospital where they can heal before going back to the wild — a new rescue campus at the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre in southeastern Manitoba.

The Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre unveiled its new facility over the weekend in the small community of Ile des Chênes, about 20 kilometres southeast of Winnipeg. The wildlife centre has been helping rescue animals — squirrels, snakes, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, geese, ducks and more — for 35 years.

Now the centre is stocked with special spaces and equipment used to help the critters, including X-ray machines for broken bones, stainless steel operating tables for emergency surgeries and indoor in-ground pools for recovery.

It also hosts specific care rooms for different kinds of baby animals and separate enclosures furnished and tailored to meet the needs of different species, like trees with branches for squirrels.

The new-and-improved facility's first patient was an otter found living under a dumpster in downtown Winnipeg and brought to the centre.

Otty the otter relaxes at the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre while waiting to be released back into the wild. (Submitted by Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre)

The otter provided trained technical staff a chance to try out their new care rooms, the centre's executive director said. These small enclosures allow humans to tend to animals without disturbing them.

"He went 17 days without seeing a human, yet receiving top-notch care," Zoé Nakata said.

"This otter stayed wild. He was not acclimatized to humans. He kept all his instincts."

Most of the site is off limits to the public, but CBC reporter Wendy Jane Parker recently toured the campus.

The Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre provides winter homes for baby birds, nocturnal fowl, like this owl pictured with a volunteer, and migratory species that are unable fly south. (Wendy Jane Parker/CBC)

One specialized waterfowl area is dedicated to treating birds during winter months — for example, pelicans that come in with injuries before migrating south.

The bird building is equipped with in-ground pools and an environment fit for waterfowl so they can live there all season until they are released back into the wild in spring when the flock returns.

"People just love to see that the site is really equipped to the nines," Nakata said.

The site is currently a temporary home for Bruce, a western hognose snake, a species found mostly around the Spruce Woods Provincial Park area in Manitoba.

A staff member shows off Bruce the snake at the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre. (Wendy Jane Parker/CBC)

Manitoba conservation officers seized the snake, which is a protected species in Manitoba and was being kept illegally as a pet.

Jaylinn Symonds, 12, was thrilled to meet some of the many animals at the grand opening of the rehabilitation centre on the weekend.

"I love them. They're pretty cool," Symonds said.

Symonds said she was most impressed by the eagles and raccoons.

In the kitchen, which is known as the centre's hub, staff cook up baby formula and meals for the wildlife in their care.

This is the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre's first permanent home with a wildlife rehabilitation hospital and education centre.

With files from Wendy Jane Parker


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