Newcomers taught about urban wildlife

The Ottawa Humane Society is helping newcomers learn about the creatures they'll encounter around their new homes.

'It helps us to blend with it so we don't get scared'

Tolulope Alufohai (centre) and her two sons Ayomide (left) and Imokhimi (right) attended Sunday's wildlife awareness event put on by the Ottawa Humane Society. They said they enjoyed learning about the animals they might encounter in Ottawa. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Moving to a new country means encountering lots of new sights — including some unfamiliar urban-dwelling animals.

That's why the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) is helping newcomers learn about the creatures they'll meet in the city. 

On Sunday, OHS held a wildlife awareness event at the Carleton Heights Community Centre for people who've recently moved to Canada.

They learned what do to if they come across an injured animal, or if they encounter urban wildlife such as raccoons and rabbits. 

Tasneem Ashour, 13, and Abdelrahman Amin, 16, moved to Canada from Saudi Arabia five months ago.

The siblings said the event was a cool experience.

"I really like animals in general, so when I heard about this I just had to come," Amin said. "Now I know how to take care of an injured animal or what to do if I see a certain animal in front of me."

Tasneem Ashour (left) and Abdelrahman Amin (right) recently moved to Canada from Saudi Arabia. They said they enjoyed meeting people at Sunday's event who were also interested in animals. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Different cultures, similar interests

The humane society also brought adoptable rabbits for people to meet.

"It's a very good experience for me, and I learned how to take care of animals and if they're injured how to treat them," said Ashour, who hopes to adopt a dog or rabbit. 

Amin said meeting people with similar interests was also a highlight.

The Ottawa Humane Society is helping newcomers learn about the creatures they'll encounter around their new homes. 0:32

"It's a different environment and … you're meeting different people. I like that very much. And different cultures, too," he said. 

"When you find someone who shares the same hobby as you, it's really fun to talk about it with them, and you have something to bond [over]. You have something in common."

Omar Adham liked learning more about the animals he sees around his home. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Co-existing with urban wildlife

Their younger brother, Omar Adham, also said he liked learning about local wildlife. 

"I see raccoons and I see rabbits in my backyard and I see so many birds," he said. "It's good and nice to know more things about animals."

Organizers said they put on the event to teach people who to contact when they come across injured animals, and to help keep them safe.

They also wanted to let people know they might not always have to intervene if they come across baby animals, since their parents are often nearby. 

Kristen Brooker works with the Ottawa Humane Society, which hosted Sunday's wildlife awareness event. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

Part of OHS newcomer program

"There might be some people that are new to our city who may not have the information about these wild animals, might be unfamiliar with them, might not know what to do in different situations," said OHS co-ordinator Kristen Brooker.

Some new Canadians got a lesson in what to do if they encounter wildelife in the city. 3:53

Tolulope Alufohai brought her two sons, Ayomide and Imokhimi, to Sunday's event. They moved from Nigeria and have been living in Canada for seven months.

Alufohai said she appreciated the educational gathering and getting the chance to mingle with people from different cultures. 

"It's very interesting for us to learn about the wildlife here," she said. "You know it helps us to blend with it so we don't get scared."

People attend the wildlife awareness event held July 22, 2018, at the Carleton Heights Community Centre. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.