Welcome to the Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre!
As a non profit organization, Wild at Heart depends on the generosity of our community to continue our mission to professionally treat wildlife and educate about human-wildlife interactions. Your support helps us to treat nearly 800 wild animals annually by purchasing specialized formula, nutrient-rich diets, quality medical supplies, new equipment, and much more. Without you, Wild at Heart would not be here today. Thank you for your continued support.
This spring at Wild at Heart we had the great pleasure of raising three beautiful orphaned beaver kits.
These three kits arrived at the end of May. Noah, Penny and Tiny were sadly orphaned by human actions, as their mother was killed in a trap. Kits are born fully furred with their eyes opened and start swimming in calm rivers at just a few days old. The three of them, weighing between 450g to 600g on admission, were only one to two weeks old when admitted.
Beavers are very social animals, with a very strong family bond. In the wild, beaver kits will be raised by both parents and will stay with them for two years, helping to take care of the new offspring the following spring. When they reach two years of age, they will disperse to establish a new territory and start their own family.
Raising the little beavers was a delight but also a real challenge. Kits need to bond to their caregivers in order to start drinking from the bottle. That's why their three caregivers spent countless hours with them, feeding them every two hours, watching them swimming in their outside pool, and getting to know each of their personalities. Beavers are also extremely stubborn creatures and will only eat if the milk is at the perfect temperature, if they are held in the perfect position and if they are in the perfect mood! But even with that big attitude and strong mind, they were still quite sweet and would just curled up in our arms to fall asleep as soon as they finished their meal.
In our care, they thrived and grew quickly. They learned how to swim, dive, and groom themselves to get their fur waterproof in just a few weeks. We quickly started incorporating solid foods into their diet, such as rodent block, willow twigs and vegetables. At about two month old, the three of them were weaned off of formula and we were able to reduce our interactions with them to keep them as wild as possible.
Here you can hear the complaining sound beavers make to communicate:
Here is Penny enjoying some sweet potatoe for the first time:
- Story, photographs and videos provided by intern Adeline Charpin
We are looking for donations to help us finish the exterior of the Wild at Heart building and allow for a proper wheelchair accessible entry. Initial funding for the centre was only enough for a portion of the project but because of corporate partnerships and volunteer efforts, Wild at Heart was able to leverage this amount to actually get 90% of the project to completion. Exposure to the elements will cause some deterioration to unfinished areas. We would rather finish up the work rather than do repairs!
A proper entry to our educational area will allow us to develop our educational programming and enable the public to visit our centre. Please help us out. You can donate on line on our website: http://wahrefugecentre.org/ (on the left hand side) or at the centre: 95 White Road, Lively, Ontario.
This spring we received two moose calves that captured our hearts. Oliver, the famous Tim Horton's moose, came into our care in mid-May. Approximately one week later another calf, Sarah, arrived from Missanabie, brought in by two MNR officers after she was observed crying in the woods for two days - no mother in sight.
The two calves got along very well, and Oliver who was quite rambunctious, was very happy to have a friend to play with. In order to try to keep their natural fear of human as intact as possible, Oliver and Sarah were being taken care of, and had contact with only two assigned people. It was quite a commitment as when they first arrived they were fed 15-18 times a day, very small amounts of formula. Moose calves have very sensitive stomachs, and in the wild they suckle ~20 times daily from their mother. Their caregivers also had to sleep with them through the night, even though Oliver usually had a burst of energy around 1am, to the dismay of his two foster moms!
When Sarah arrived, she had bloodshot eyes, which indicated she did not receive colostrum from her mother. Colostrum is the first feeding a calf receives, and it contains antibodies to help protect the young from disease and infection. Her eyes lightened within 1-2 weeks, and we hoped for the best with her.
After roughly a month, Sarah was catching up to Oliver - she drank more formula than him, and although she came in much skinnier, she was starting to fill out. They were both thriving and growing up fast.
Here is a video of the two calves gallivanting around their enclosure:
Unfortunately, at the end of July, Sarah started showing signs of infection. Dr Baron, who followed the calves' health since they arrived, was called and treatment was started. She received constant care and medication, but passed away within 48 hours. A necropsy revealed she had a systemic infection - an infection that was throughout her body, in her organs and joints. This infection was most likely due to the fact that she never had the colostrum from her mother, as the other calf seemed unaffected.
Oliver handled the loss of his beloved friend quite well, but did spend a couple days crying whenever he was left alone. Over the next two months he grew rapidly - he shed his baby fur, put on a couple hundred pounds and was more stubborn than ever.
On August 30th, one of Oliver's main caregivers found him limping in his pen - refusing to use his back leg. We called the vet immediately, and she confirmed that he did have a break. The Espanola Animal Hospital was contacted, and came out that day to take x-rays of Oliver's leg - and it was found that Oliver had a spiral fracture in his tibia.
Surgery was arranged for Monday and a team of vets and veterinary assistants were put together by the Espanola Animal Hospital to surgically place a plate on Oliver's bone - to stabilize the bone and hold it together.
Moose, like most ruminants, do not handle anesthetic well, and we knew the surgery would be risky - but the only other option was euthanasia. The plan was to have Oliver sedated for only an hour for surgery, but once they opened his leg - it was hard to properly align the bones. His muscles were so strong that pulling the bones into place was challenging - and had to be done slowly - for fear of shattering the bones. After two hours of being under sedation - Oliver's vitals started to drop and he went into cardiac arrest. The team did all they could do to try to revive him, but his body could not handle it. We had lost our baby moose, even after he had surpassed the 3 month critical period.
Working with moose calves can be challenging, they have big personalities and need to bond with their caretakers in order for them to do well. Having lost the two calves has been challenging, but we do have happy endings as well. Below is a video of one of our moose calves, Vegas, being released in the spring of 2011. Vegas came in as a small dehydrated calf, spending her first day at the centre on IV fluids. She battled infections, fevers and was so ill at one point that she could not even stand on her own and needed to be watched 24/7. She was a strong spirit and after 1 year in our care, was released back to the wild:
We have had some success with moose calves but due to the importance of the first few weeks with the mother, it is always a difficult proposition when we receive them when they are so young. This is why we tell people that unless they are fairly certain that the mother is dead or permanently departed, it is best to leave them be. People who come across a baby moose should call us first before making a decision.
Although losing these two beautiful babies broke our hearts, they will be remembered dearly at Wild at Heart. We will not forget Oliver, always so stubborn and playful but also very affectionate and our sweet Sarah, calmer, yet as impatient as Oliver to get her bottle. .
We want to thank all everyone who helped us rescue and raise Sarah and Oliver. To all of you who gave donations or brought browse for them, thank you so much!
We would like to thank Dr. Baron from the Walden Animal Hospital and the Espanola Animal Hospital team for doing everything possible to try to save our Oliver.
As a volunteer organization funded entirely by donations, we need as much help as we can get, through volunteering and through donations. We want to build a better and larger moose enclosure that will help to protect the young moose that we get in the future until we release them. Anyone wishing to donate to help both WAH and our work with all kinds of wildlife can do so on our website, mail or call.
We need your help to spread the word that the vast majority of raccoons that are found inhabiting attics, garages, sheds, etc, are mammas caring for a litter of newborn babies.
Wild at Heart receives numerous raccoon babies every year that have been unknowingly orphaned by homeowners trapping and relocating the “mamma” raccoon. Usually several days later a litter of screaming desperately hungry raccoon kits is discovered.
You can help by explaining to such homeowners that there are ways to encourage “mamma” to move out with her brood ON HER OWN. By contacting Wild at Heart at 705-692-4478, we can advise effective methods of encouraging mamma to relocate her den site where she can safely raise her family without interfering with the human occupants in her territory.
Participating Calendar Vendors:
A&J Home Hardware, Bouchard St,
Barrydowne Paint and Wallpaper, Barrydowne Rd.
Gloria's Convenience Store , Bouchard St.
The Outdoor Store, Long Lake Road
Pet Valu Southridge Mall and LaSalle Blvd. locations
Backyard Birder, Long Lake Road
Pet Food Warehouse, LaSalle Blvd.
Walden Animal Hospital, Lively
Wild at Heart Wildlife Refuge Centre, Lively