The unfinished new animal hospital at the Medicine River Wildlife Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Medicine River Wildlife Centre hits 35 years

Work continues to finish a new wildlife hospital for the centre

For 35 years, Medicine River Wildlife Centre has been healing injured animals and birds in central Alberta.

Executive director Carol Kelly said in the centre’s early years, people would ask her why she bothers trying to save wildlife. Why not just shoot them?

“Now, it’s almost the extreme opposite. Why can’t you get a helicopter and go over there and rescue an animal?” said Kelly, who recalled someone demanding that she get a canoe out onto a lake in the middle of the night to rescue a loon.

She said when they arrived the next day, the loon was fine. It had just been laying on its back preening itself.

In addition to helping to heal injured animals, the centre has also focused on educating the public about wildlife.

“We continue to research. We continue to learn ourselves so that we can educate better.

“We’re almost like the canary in the coal mine. If we see all of a sudden an influx of a species in trouble, that’s an indication that it’s bigger than what we’re seeing.”

The centre has been building a new wildlife hospital that will be double the size of its old building with five intensive care units, a lounge and learning area, treatment centre, quarantine room and a kitchen and storage area.

Kelly is hopeful the hospital is getting closer to being finished this year. More will be known next month, but the year is starting off on the right foot with someone coming forward to help build new cages.

Some of the projects scheduled for the anniversary year include developing a small interpretive centre to welcome visitors and an on-site and online gift shop; completing improvements to the nature trail and viewing tower; building a turkey vulture nest site; refreshing the website, developing a new internship program; and implementing a new phone system to streamline the more than 10,000 calls to the centre annually.

An anniversary celebration is planned for September.

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