Many cottagers are used to coexisting with wildlife while up north, in nature. And some may have relied on a local wildlife sanctuary when encountering critters in need. These sanctuaries do the important work of rehabilitating and, in some cases, giving a permanent home to various animals, from birds and raccoons to bears and squirrels. On your next trip up to the cottage, consider a visit to one of these centres, or show your support with donations or volunteering.
A raccoon might not be the first animal that comes to mind when you think of species in need, but because of their increased presence in urban centres, raccoons often end up injured or abandoned in areas that aren’t suitable. Mally’s Third Chance is a sanctuary and rehabilitation centre dedicated to remedying this problem. While they’re currently not taking on raccoons, they’re working hard to build more facilities to house more in the future. And though they don’t allow visits, they engage with the public frequently and are always looking for support.
Dedicated to helping sick or orphaned animals in the Haliburton Highlands region, this wildlife sanctuary is 100 per cent volunteer-based, working hard to care for foxes, owls, deer, and more. They don’t provide formal tours but are always looking for volunteers, and can be a great information resource for those living in the area.
Aspen Valley looks after animals in acute need, and they also have a host of ‘permanent residents’ who need ongoing care and refuge. You can book a tour with this sanctuary to visit the permanently-housed animals, including wolves, bears, foxes, lynx, and even a moose.
On drives through cottage country, you may see signs that warn of turtles in the area, a means to protect this important species. While this centre is currently operating virtual tours due to the pandemic, keep an eye out as the season progresses; you can also visit their gift shop and education centre by appointment.
Have a little one that’s an animal-lover? The Kawartha Wildlife Centre runs yearly summer camps for children with an active interest in animals and many other outreach and education programs. Plus, the centre has tons of information on wildlife coexistence—the perfect refresher before you spend the summer up north.
Like the Kawartha Wildlife Centre, Soper Creek runs various programs that engage with people of all ages—from day tours to experiences that allow you to learn about the animals they give sanctuary to, like arctic foxes, owls, bobcats, and more.
Marshes are an essential part of Ontario’s ecosystems—they provide sanctuary for birds and amphibians. The Wye Marsh Nature Reserve is not only a haven for these species but a beautiful area to visit for hikes, walks, and more. You might also be lucky enough to catch sight of the beautiful Trumpeter Swans that hang out nearby.
The Donkey Sanctuary has been up and running since 1992, caring for these sweet animals that need a permanent home. This sanctuary is open seasonally for visitors, runs various events, and has volunteer opportunities available. If you’re interested in contributing financially, you can sponsor one of their donkeys—it would make a great gift!
Wishing Well is a farm sanctuary, rescuing pigs, cows, goats, and more. In addition to day visits, Wishing Well offers camping or “glamping” style overnight stays—yes, that means you can spend a whole night with llamas!
This farm and sanctuary for alpacas and llamas makes for a fun, unique day visit for those in the area. They offer ‘llama walks’ where visitors can tether up with one of the resident llamas and take them on a stroll around the property.