Wild at Heart animal refuge aims to become eco-tourism destination
Paying visitors will be able to see wildlife in care, learn about wild animals and their habitats
A wildlife refuge centre in northern Ontario is trying to spread its wings.
Wild at Heart Refuge Centre in Lively, near Sudbury, Ont., is fundraising in the hopes that it can open its doors and become an educational and eco-tourism destination.
Veterinarian Rod Jouppi, president and founder of Wild at Heart, said renovations are underway to create a space where the paying public can come to learn about and see wild animals in care.
There will be classrooms and viewing windows — and even the opportunity to watch a surgery on an injured animal.
But he insists it's not going to be a zoo.
"We only are an acute care centre," he explained. "So, if we can help the animal and fix it and release it, that's what we do. If we can't release the animal, we don't keep animals here, long-term, in cages, for the benefit of the viewer."
Jouppi said one-way glass and real-time video feeds will make sure that visitors can see the hawks, moose, raccoons and other wild animals that are receiving care. But the animals won't be stressed by the presence of people.