TREATING AND RELEASING HEALTHY ANIMALS BACK INTO THEIR NATURAL HABITATS
Shades of Hope, is a registered charity dedicated to treating, nurturing, and rehabilitating injured and orphaned native wildlife, Including, a large number of wild birds, mammals & reptiles.
Located in Georgina, Ontario, Canada, Shades of Hope serves the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and surrounding areas throughout the South Central Ontario corridor.
Sadly, commercial and residential growth continues to explode, taking over the habit that was formerly occupied by our wildlife. The lack of suitable habitat mean animals have less space, and food sources, and are more likely to become victims of road accidents, and human cruelty
As the need for rescue of these orphaned and injured animals increases, Shades of Hope is committed to providing veterinary care, proper nourishment and a safe place for them to flourish until they are ready to return to their rightful place in nature.
In the event of a wildlife crisis, Shades of Hope will do their best to help. When unable to assist directly, the organization will, where possible, help you find an alternative resource.
My first experience with Shades Of Hope was the day a Finch flew head first into my kitchen window. I ran to the garden and found the little bird more than dazed; I was not hopeful. I contacted Animal Control, and by the time I had made a warm bed in a shoebox for the bird, an officer had arrived to collect him. I asked what would happen to the little bird and the officer informed me she would take the bird to Shades Of Hope for treatment. Since I volunteer at the shelter, I was able to follow up and learned my little friend had made a full recovery. Now that I have seen, firsthand, this incredible facility and equipment, as well as the care given to each patient, I am not at all surprised.
ALL LIVES MATTER
Click here for tips, from the refuge, about how to deter such accidents from occurring.
The facility is not open to the public; I am grateful for the opportunity to visit Shades Of Hope and share my experience with others.
I was welcomed, by founder, and manager Gail, and we proceeded with the tour. Immediately, I was impressed by how incredibly well-organized the facility is; thus, enabling the highest level of efficiency. As emergency cases are constant, everything needs to run smoothly.
The bird corner is comprised mainly of shelves containing rows and rows of makeshift homes for baby birds and will be full this time of year (spring). The baby birds require feeding every fifteen minutes, and feeding stations are set up along the walls to accommodate this full-time job. The birds are housed in cloth cages, so they don’t harm their feathers.
Also in this area are incubators for patients with head injuries, providing them with oxygen, and keeping their body temperature stable. An example given is of a little sparrow who hit a window. The facility sees a large number of collision cases. Road accidents and frostbite are other reasons patients end up at the refuge for treatment.
The bunny room is a quiet area, chosen with these easily stressed beings in mind. Nearby, are neatly arranged shelves of food and milk. The bunny milk is shipped from Australia. There is no other manufacturer of bunny milk in the world. It all comes from Australia. Although they have tried creating blends of their own and using different products, they have found this formula, made specifically for bunnies, gives them the best result. Doing so helps their success rate with bunnies.
Patients are separated into ‘Adult’ and ‘Baby’ buildings.
Adult animals are easily stressed; the babies don’t know to be afraid of us, yet
The team limits their interaction with wildlife, doing so only as much as required to medicate and monitor them.
There is also a Meal-worm Farm, which, provides nourishment for the thirty bats Gail is currently feeding.
At this time, there are twenty-nine Opossums at SOH; they’re everywhere, Gail points out. As they’re nocturnal, most were sleeping during my tour. I kept my voice to a little more than a whisper so as not to disturb these guests.
Five-star service at the facility means each guest’s room is cleaned every morning. Some even have a second clean at the end of the day.
There is also a feeding area for baby squirrels. This process runs like clockwork; one baby is fed and moved to the ‘done’ section until all have been fed and are returned to their original accommodations.
Twelve interns work shifts during the spring, sitting at the feeding stations to accommodate the demand.
The remainder of the team is made up of three full-time employees, and many volunteers; mostly students hoping to work in fields such as zoology, conservation, animal sciences, or pre-vet. Some students travel from other parts of the world for the opportunity to work and learn from their experience at the refuge.
Shades Of Hope is the first wildlife centre with an accredited surgical centre for wildlife. After passing all qualifications to gain certification, SOH is recognized by The College of Veterinarians of Ontario. Veterinarians come to the sanctuary twice a week to perform surgeries. Having a Vet Technician on the team, SOH is able to perform many medical procedures, themselves. The centre includes an x-ray station and a lab (for blood and fecal tests), an isolation space, and the surgical area. The team worked late into the night, last night, on an injured opossum that travelled from Waterloo, Ontario.
As we walk past the pigeon wall, I notice an interesting machine:
Gail proudly explains the device is a ‘large animal incubator,’ fashioned out of a freezer. The team has used the incubator, successfully, to treat larger animals such as deer, a swan, and foxes. This type of machine would have cost eight to ten-thousand dollars. This Money can be used elsewhere.
The medication distribution area is a hub of activity first thing in the morning, and again in the evening. Those are our busy times, explains Gail. Patient files and a white board keeps records methodized and the process streamlined.
Food prep and laundry areas are also uncluttered, and orderly.
I meet resident Wood duck, Woody at the ‘indoor pond;’ a little pool enclosed in a horse-type stall where he is visiting the ducks and geese.
When he sees us, he comes out to join in the conversation; he’s a chatty fellow.
A beautiful Barred Owl is recovering, nearby, from having his wing caught-up in fishing line. He was found hanging from a hydro wire. X-rays did not show any fractures; however, there may be some ligament damage. Time will tell. For now, he’s on antibiotics, and the pain and swelling is being managed.
In the backyard, an intermediate area serves as an adjustment area, before the birds are transferred to larger pens. Aviaries provide shelter to the songbirds; some are winterized to house a large number of opossums.
This area is usually quite a noisy corner with all the screaming and chirping
One guest, a bluejay, is in residence until his tail grows back. Something got a hold of him, and although he managed to get away, he lost his tail.
Nearby is a one-hundred-foot-long covered building, this is the ‘flight testing’ centre. When staff feels a bird has recovered from their injuries, they are brought to this centre to see if they can fly. When the birds aren’t using it, the donkeys do. Gail laughs: but not to fly!
The premises also has a quarantine building, a chicken coop, equipped with heat lamp, and a storage shed for various feed suplies.
A winterized facility has been created for baby squirrels born late last year. They were too young to be released before spring.
I’m shown where, on the grounds, there will be four, fully-caged outdoor water-fowl enclosures, comprised of multiple ponds. This new addition will house the more than one-hundred and fifty baby ducklings raised by Shades Of Hope, each year. They’ll now be outside, instead of inside.
When I suggest that Shades of Hope is more like a resort than a treatment facility, Gail responds:
We owe them the best we can give them
Since opening in 2013, the organization has helped more than fifteen thousand wild lives. Click to view species cared for. Learn how you can help this incredible charitable organization save more wild lives.
Thank you, Gail, and SOH Team for inviting me to visit your beautiful facility, and for allowing me to share information about Shades of Hope, and the animals you help,
Sharing is caring. Please pin this post to generate further awareness!