Nova Scotia

Hope for Wildlife unveils new marine habitat at annual open house

Animal rehabilitation centre Hope for Wildlife showcased its new marine habitat for the first time to the public.

Open house featured a behind-the-scenes look at the rescue organization

Hope Swinimer with Gretel, one of about 100 remaining pine marten in Nova Scotia. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

Hope for Wildlife unveiled its new marine habitat Sunday at the rescue organization's annual open house.

The new habitat is larger, features grass instead of wooden floors and is further away from the public. It will house any marine animals that need it; seal pups, beavers, gulls, otters and ducks are expected.

"It's a beautiful unit," said Hope Swinimer, founder of Hope for Wildlife. "We'll be able to do a lot with it." 

Hope for Wildlife's new marine habitat will house seal pups, otters, beavers, gulls and ducks. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

Victoria Bolhuis, an intern at Hope for Wildlife, said she is looking forward to moving seals into the new enclosure.

"The other marine unit is much smaller and doesn't have the amount of depth for the seals," Bolhuis said.

 Bolhuis said the deeper pools will help seal pups develop their swimming. She said the new location of the enclosure is also key in rehabilitating the wildlife.

"It's further away from the public, so it's less stress on the animals," Bolhuis said. "They're less exposed to people so they'll wild up better."

The older marine enclosure features wooden floors and smaller spaces for the animals. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

It took a year and a half to raise $40,000 to build the enclosure, but Hope for Wildlife is still looking to raise more money to add a roof to the shelter before it houses any animals.

"We are Canada's ocean playground," Swinimer said. "So we really need to think about our oceans and everything that's in them."

In addition to the new marine habitat, the annual open house offered a behind-the-scenes look at the rescue's inner workings.

The baby raccoon nursery was open to the public at Hope for Wildlife's annual open house. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

The public was able to see a baby raccoon nursery and test veterinary skills at a teddy bear injury clinic.

The open house was also an opportunity to meet Gretel, one of the remaining 100 pine marten left in Nova Scotia.

"We do education all year long, but one day a year we open up everything," Swinimer said.

"We really want people to understand what we do for the animals. We have a lot of science, a lot of hard work, and a lot of volunteers to make this all happen."

The 2018 Hope for Wildlife open house drew crowds from across Nova Scotia. (Jenny Cowley/CBC)

Hundreds of cars could be seen parked along the highway in Seaforth, N.S., outside the entrance to the facility.

Since 1997, Hope for Wildlife rescued, rehabilitated and released more than 40,000 animals. 

Lynn Roger, head of the medical district for the facility, said more animals are coming in this year compared to last year. 

"For 2018, we are at approximately 500 more animals than what we were at last year in 2017," Roger said.

But Roger credits the spike in animals to events like the open house, which brings awareness to the public about Hope for Wildlife.

"It's about educating the public on wildlife and the importance of wildlife for our planet ... and what we can do as people to contribute," Roger said. 

About the Author

Jenny Cowley is an investigative journalist in Toronto. She has previously reported for CBC in Nova Scotia. You can reach her at