Refuge Pageau founder, 'wolf whisperer' Michel Pageau dead at 75
Pageau's work in animal rehabilitation in Abitibi-Témiscamingue dates back to 1970s
Abitibi-Témiscamingue is grieving the death of "wolf whisperer" Michel Pageau, the founder of Refuge Pageau, a sanctuary which looks after wild animals in need of rehabilitation.
He died at 75 of a pulmonary embolism.
Pageau spent his lifetime helping and caring for animals. His work started getting media attention in 1974 in Cléricy, a small town about 600 kilometres northwest of Montreal, where he and his wife adopted a young beaver.
From those beginnings, Pageau took in numerous animals and eventually opened his animal sanctuary, Refuge Pageau, in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region in 1986.
The refuge, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in August, now welcomes thousands of visitors yearly and tends to about 150 wild animals before releasing them back into the wild.
Since its founding, the refuge increasingly became a tourist attraction in the region.
Randa Napky, the director general of the local tourism commission, said that Pageau strongly represented the image of the area and Quebec at an international level.
"He was also known in France, among the world's francophones and in Europe," Napky said.
Pageau's health had been declining for several years prior to his death and the animal sanctuary has been increasingly led by his daughter Nathalie and his son-in-law Félix Offroy.