Tucked in the small farming community of Errington, you will find a world-class wildlife recovery centre. Since 1986 this eight acre rehabilitation facility has cared for ill, injured or orphaned cougars, bears, wolves, and birds. Along with the care of these creatures, the centre takes great pride in providing the public with extensive education programs.
If you are looking for a zoo like experience, with animals caged at every turn, you will not find it here. The majority of the wildlife that arrives at the centre are eventually released back into the wild once recovered from their ailment. Only those that are non-releasable, due to having suffered too much damage, are kept at the facility and used to help educate the public.
As I told my children, we should be thankful there are only as many animals on display as there are. This just means the great care the centre provides to the injured wildlife is truly working!
What to Expect?
You will start your self-guided tour in the Museum of Nature. Here you will find static displays of wildlife in their natural habitats. With the push of a button, visitors can hear what each animal sounds like in the wild, while information tablets provide a more detailed description.
From there you will head to the largest eagle flight cage of its kind in Canada. Through peek-a-boo windows you will view recovering eagles soaring through the cage, or resting on the provided perches. While in the same building, make sure to stop and take a look through the viewing window of the on-site treatment centre. And as well, view the x-rays displayed of past injured animals. If there happens to be any orphaned bear cubs in the facility at the time of your visit, this same building is also where you view the ‘cub-cams’ (live footage of the cubs via TV screens).
Next you will happen upon the Learning Centre. This is where you will find educational talks, hands-on displays, wildlife biofacts, and in the summer an up-close introduction to a few of the birds. Make sure to take the time to sit and watch the video that plays on the screen. It gives a wonderful glimpse of what the Wildlife Recovery Centre is truly about. The video is most definitely worth watching in its entirety. If you really enjoy the video it is available for purchase in the gift shop!
Who Lives There?
While many of the animals that enter the facility are able to be rehabilitated back into the wild, there are a few that are permanent residents. Among these non-releasable wildlife on display you will find many types of owls, falcons, vultures, doves, ferrets, eagles, hawks, a few ravens, turtles, ducks, and a resident bear.
The centre has been able to recreate the most natural and non-invasive habitat for all its residents. I was thoroughly impressed with the size of each enclosure, as well as the use of foliage to give the wildlife some much-needed privacy (even though it hinders photographers from getting a great shot). It is easy to see that staff and volunteers truly have the well-being of the animals at heart.
Be Prepared to Relax
The beautiful surroundings of the facility left me awestruck. It is common to see hummingbirds buzzing to and from the stunning display of native plants in the Wildlife Gardens. Native birds and ducks flit and waddle among the many unique rock sculptures found in the Magical Field of Stones. Turtles bask on a log in the pond soaking up the warm sun, while also enjoying the gentle spray provided by the nearby fountain. While meandering the grounds my senses were able to delight in a full feast. I found myself smiling and completely at ease in the tranquil setting…even with my two children in tow.
If you are looking for a unique educational experience in a beautiful setting while in the Parksville area, the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is the place to go!
Located near Parksville, the Wildlife Recovery Centre is found on 1240 Leffler Road in Errington.
Public viewing hours are from 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM daily.
For up to date information, including admission prices, please visit the website of NIWRA.
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