Critter Care throws open doors to public

Spring and summer always bring a population boom to the animals at Critter Care, the shelter for orphaned and injured wild animals in South Langley.

“They’re multiplying,” said Maureen Binnie, president of the Critter Care Society.

On Tuesday the society released the last of 2013’s rescued bear cubs back into the wild, but already has three more this year. That goes along with beavers, a trio of river otters, 14 deer, and a huge number of raccoons – 85 at the most recent count.

Critter Care takes in pretty much any kind of mammal, from the miniscule flying squirrels to adolescent black bears.

“Pretty well 90 per cent of them are orphaned,” said Binnie.

Critter Care is a largely volunteer-staffed organization that for years has been taking in animals and getting them ready to head back out into the wild. 

Although the organization runs year-round, there is only one chance for members of the public to see the animals there, and that is this weekend’s annual open house.

The July 12-13 event is one of the biggest annual fundraisers for the society.

The funds raised from this day will have to stretch for much of the year to help feed and shelter the wide variety of animals brought to the shelter’s doors.

With releases of most of the animals not taking place until September, the summer is one of the busiest seasons at the shelter.

Although there will be plenty to see and do at Critter Care, the facility is dedicated to the animals first, Binnie said. That means not every animal will be on display to the public.

“We never show the bears,” Binnie said.

Some animals can be shown because they are too young to be habituated to the presence of humans – something the shelter wants to avoid. Teaching bears that humans are friendly won’t help them survive in the wild.

Likewise, they typically don’t show some other animals because they are too frightened of humans. The young fawns can too easily bond with people.

Binnie advises turning up early to get a spot on one of the guided tours around the facility. Visitors can book a tour as soon as they arrive, but may have to wait a while.

There will be plenty of activities and entertainment while waiting.

Paws-2-Dance, the dog dancing group, will be on hand, along with stilt walking on Saturday, the Nylon Zoo on Sunday, and facepainting and Community Critters all weekend.

Hari Om Yoga will be there Sunday for an interactive demonstration – those who bring a yoga mat can take part.

There will be concession stands and ice cream, and a show of some fancy cars.

Critter Care asks for a $2 donation per adult, with kids free. 

Critter Care is located at 481 216th Street, and the annual open house will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

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