Ontario wildlife refuge to allow public viewings of animals receiving care

Ella the orphaned moose

Think it would be cool to see surgery performed on a moose? Well, a wildlife refuge in northern Ontario is trying to make it happen.

Viewing surgeries performed on its animals is just one of the educational experiences Wild At Heart Refuge Centre hopes to offer visitors in the future. The centre, which is located southwest of Sudbury in Lively, Ontario, is starting to forge relationships with hotels and other organizations in the region as it prepares to become a tourist destination, especially for those who are already visiting Sudbury’s popular interactive museum Science North.

They’re also in the process of fundraising and applying for government grants so that they can complete renovations, which will transform their current space into one where both school children and the general public can learn about the wildlife being treated there.

Wild At Heart founder and president Rod Jouppi told CBC News that incorporating the educational component is an extremely important part of what they do there.

“If we can educate young people in terms of what society should be doing for the environment and wildlife, it’s probably going to have a much bigger impact than treating the hundreds of animals that we do,” he said.

To ensure the public’s presence doesn’t add any stress to the injured or orphaned animals, the creatures will have to be viewed through one-way glass or real-time video feeds. When visiting the centre, poeple can expect to see almost any animal found in northeastern Ontario. In the past, the centre has treated turtles with broken shells, injured raccoons, and even sick pigeons.

They also looked after a very famous moose calf named Ella, who underwent two leg surgeries at Wild at Heart in September, and is now in the care of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Rosseau, Ontario.

Although the public will pay to view the animals, in an interview with CBC’s Markus Scwhabe, Jouppi insisted that it’s not a zoo.

“We are only an acute care centre,” he said. “So, if we can help the animal and fix it and release it, that’s what we do.” According to Jouppi, that means they won’t keep the animals in the facility long-term, and certainly not for the benefit of the public.

Jouppi said the facility should be completed by early 2017, if not sooner.