Once a year, Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee opens its doors to the community for an up-close-and-personal look at the unique wild animals they care for. However, like so many other events, COVID-19 has changed those plans.
The annual “baby shower” is taking place this weekend, when staff at the not-for-profit feed all kinds of baby animals, from squirrels and raccoons to birds. Only this year, the event is virtual.
“This is usually our largest fundraiser of the year,” centre director Sue Meech said. “Last year, it was pretty successful, but it’s neither quite the same when you don’t have that many people coming through and seeing what we do.”
Every year, Sandy Pines cares for thousands of injured and orphaned animals, a need that is getting larger, according to Meech.
“Every year it’s been increasing,” she said. “When I first started, I had seven animals, and that was 40 years ago, so it is increasing very quickly.”
Case in point, the centre is currently playing host to around 200 squirrels alone, plus hundreds of other animals.
Sandy Pines gets no government funding and relies heavily on donations. Getting behind the scenes you can see the commitment and the TLC that helps fuel the place.
“What you get attached to is their hope — the chance that they would be able to live a normal life that every living creature deserves to,” wildlife caretaker Sarah Hayday said.
While the centre is more than pleased to help out where it can, Meech says a quick phone call could prove to be the better option.
“Sometimes we can prevent an admission by giving people advice on how to get raccoons out of the attic or skunks out of the basement without interfering with the animal,” she said. “The animal, if you make its life unpleasant, will often move itself. So please, before you think of relocating, give us a call, we can help.”
It’s more work for them but they don’t mind as the animal, young or old, is the one that will benefit.
There will be another live “baby shower” and virtual tour Sunday afternoon, and the online auction and raffle closes on Monday.