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Medicine River Wildlife Centre celebrates 40 years

40th anniversary celebration was held on Saturday

The Medicine River Wildlife Centre has been rescuing injured and orphaned animals for four decades.

"It's hard to believe it's been 40 years," said Carol Kelly, founder and executive director of the centre.

"When this all started, the centre was in a rented farmhouse with a makeshift hospital room and very little knowledge on my part. We've come a very long way."

The centre operated in the basement and barn of a rental property from 1984-1988. The original vision was that Medicine River Wildlife Centre could help care for a few wild animals that might come to the Red Deer SPCA each year. In 1989, the centre moved to Spruce View, where it remains to this day.

"It's been an interesting 40 years. I had no intention when I began of getting to the place we are now. I've learned a huge amount about a lot of things and not just animals. I've learned about human nature and dealing with people, fundraising, and more. I hope to be able to pass that on to future generations," Kelly said.

Kelly's work over the past 40 years has been centred around her passion for animals.

"My mother had told me that when I was two years old and had an imaginary friend, and that imaginary friend was a bird," Kelly said.

"I think I was just born with a connection to animals and nature. That connection has just grown over the years."

On Saturday, hundreds of people attended an open house in celebration of the centre reaching its four-decade milestone.

"A common comment I heard today was, 'There so much more happening here than I realized.' Having an open house helped raise awareness," Kelly said following the event.

"Some of the people who showed up today have brought patients to us before – they wanted to come back and see how those patients are doing. All in all it was a lovely day."

The past 40 years has brought a tremendous amount of change to the Medicine River Wildlife Centre. Kelly said she hopes to see the centre's growth continue in the coming years.

"We've got some ideas for different kinds of education programs. We would like to move our programs online as well. Of course we also want to build a brand new visitor centre," she said.

The opening of a new visitor centre depends on how quickly money can be raised.

"We have a third of the money now. Everything depends on how quickly we can get the rest of the balance. It's only another $600,000, which in the grand scheme of things isn't huge. If we can get that money moving, we hope to be into that visitor centre within two years."

For more information on the organization, or to donate money, visit

Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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