The weather here in Muskoka has been quite assorted lately, but gradually the temperature has been increasing, bringing on the annual season of natural renewal, including the time when many wildlife species give birth.
Spring means babies for Aspen valley.
It’s baby season at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, and among the orphaned baby animals being brought into the animal rehab centre are baby raccoons.
It is also the season when wildlife mothers are out foraging in order to feed their young, left safely behind in the nest, burrow or tree hole. Unfortunately, not every mother makes it back.
They get predated by other species; they get killed on the roads or become victim to other dangers. The little ones, who are totally dependent on their mothers at this time, are left alone – easy pickings for predators or prone to dying of starvation.
Fortunately, many of these orphans make their way to rehabilitation centres, such as Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, because of the kindness and concern of individuals who come across them. Staff and volunteers have been readying the nursery, gathering supplies and preparing formulas in anticipation of the arrival of these orphans.
Already Aspen Valley has received several squirrels, raccoons, bunnies and coyote pups. And it is only beginning.
Over the next few months staff will be accepting many other orphans brought to us, and each one will be given special care during the nursing and weaning period, after which they will then go into the “kindergarten” area with others of their species, in order to develop the skills necessary for them to survive once they are released back into the wild.
In order to rehabilitate these young ones successfully, it is important for them to see as few humans as possible, and hence we do not bring visitors into the quarantine and nursery areas.
But we will be installing a webcam in the schoolhouse, so that visitors can view staff and our many dedicated volunteers caring for the orphans.
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary will re-open to visitors on Wednesdays and Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. beginning May 20 until Thanksgiving.
On opening day, we anticipate sharing video and photos of the lion Subira, who is now living in Colorado and who is being prepared to join a pride of other lions, once it is deemed safe for her to do so.
We invite friends and neighbours to come and celebrate with us the renewal of the season, meet our volunteers, and view our permanent guests including Paul (the Ball) raccoon, Banshee the Eurasian lynx, Clooney and Butterscotch the rabbits, the homing pigeons, Elly the Great Horned Owl, Gandalf the Great Grey Owl, Lucky the White Tailed Deer, Mama Bear, Zoe the coyote, the two Arctic Wolf sisters, and Mkom and Luna the two Timber Wolves, who now have been successfully introduced to each other. And later on, when their enclosures are completed, we will add Bucky and Brooke the beavers and Wilder the otter to this list.
Admission is by donation (we do not receive any government funding), and we look forward to welcoming you on our visiting days.
(These weekly articles are contributed by staff at the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with a mandate to educate the public towards a better understanding of local fauna.)