Photo by MURRAY CRAWFORD/Advocate staff Todd Kelly, Medicine River Wildlife Centre facility manager, holds on to Otis the Great Horned Owl Sunday at the Memorial Centre. The Medicine River Wildlife Centre held a fundraiser featuring Otis, as well as a talk from naturalist Brian Keating.

Medicine River Wildlife Centre closing in on fundraising goal

Central Alberta’s wildlife hospital aims to raise $1 million

If you ask Carol Kelly, Otis the Owl has become a bit of a diva over the years.

The 14-year-old Great Horned Owl is the Medicine River Wildlife Centre’s education owl and a well-known symbol of the organization.

He took centre stage again for some time Sunday, at a Tea with Otis event, supporting the centre.

“He’s a bit of a diva,” said Kelly, Medicine River Wildlife Centre executive director. “He thinks he’s pretty hot stuff.”

The event, on Sunday at the Memorial Centre, was a fundraiser for the Medicine River Wildlife Centre to help with their operating costs.

While it wasn’t part of the fundraising effort on Sunday, the centre has been working for eight years towards a new hospital and education centre. And they’re getting even closer. Kelly said they are now just $75,000 shy of their fundraising goal.

“We get that and we can get the building going,” said Kelly. “It’s been an eight-year struggle, but it is a $1-million building.”

Kelly also said they expect a major funding announcement in the next few months.

Once completed, the new facility will include five new and improved intensive care units, a quarantine room, a patient receiving examination room, an oiled wildlife wash area, safe oil disposal, freezer room and a larger education centre. The hospital wing will be 3,400 square feet and the education centre will be 8,300 square feet.

Last year, the centre took in 2,200 wild patients, dealt with 436 wildlife conflict calls, they had 10,000 phone calls and about 150 education presentations.

Otis was just part of the event, which included a presentation from Brian Keating, a naturalist and wildlife exert, Kelly and researcher Judy Boyd.

About 100 people came to take in the event, have a snack and hear from the experts.

Joining the Medicine River Wildlife Centre at the event were ReThink Red Deer, the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance and the Red Deer River Naturalists, who all had booths promoting their organizations.

For more information, and to donate to the new centre, on the Medicine River Wildlife Centre visit

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