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Wild City: Calgary’s Animal Rehab

Wild City: Calgary’s Animal Rehab


(lighthearted music) – [Melanie] Wildlife
is very important and a lot of it comes
down to just education and understanding why
animals do what they do. We’re actually living in a
collaborative relationship. So, they’re providing
insect control to us, they pollinate our food. We really do need wildlife to
be able to survive, ourselves. – [Andrea] I love
this organization,
there’s many animals that we get to see
on a daily basis, and I think sometimes we
forget that we’re really lucky to have them in our city. (gentle piano music) – I think we’re really
lucky in Calgary to have such a wide
diversity of species that live right on our doorstep. A lot of people I
think, think wildlife is something that’s
separate from us. It’s something that
lives outside of cities, but I think a lot of
people don’t realize that there are quite
a number of species that actually live in our city. The purpose of our
organization is to intake injured and orphaned wild
animals to rehabilitate them and then put all healthy,
vigorous individuals back into the wild. (rustling) But, also, we provide
educational programs to schools and community groups
to teach kids about wildlife so hopefully they will value
wildlife as they get older. – So, the animals we see here at Calgary Wildlife
Rehabilitation Society is a cross-section of what
you normally see in the city. We’re kind of in a unique
position here being at Calgary, we receive animals
from the east, so you’ve got prairie grassland, you have a little forest
happening in Lethbridge, so you’re going to get
a lot of birds and stuff that are coming
out of Lethbridge, and then we have the Foothills,
so we get a pretty diverse cross-section of species here. (birds squawking) – [Andrea] Animals come to
us generally one of two ways. The first way is that
a member of the public comes across an injured
or orphaned wild animal, they either will phone us
and talk to us about that and find out, is it
actually orphaned? Is it actually injured? And if the answer is yes,
then we will encourage them to grab the animal
and bring it to us. (tense piano music) – [Melanie] We’ve received
a great horned owl, it’s an adult male that
came in last evening, he came in around six
o’clock last night. He was caught in a
barbed wire fence, so the land owner cut
him from the fence. When we came to us,
he had a barbed wire that was sticking
out of his wing. We were able to anesthetize him and trim down that barbed wire. Right now, the vet and the
technician are removing a piece of barbed wire
from the owl’s petasian, her, the top part of her wing. The barbed wire that came
in was ten inches long, so we just had to cut,
’cause I didn’t want it to impale him–
– I’m just worried about this area, it’s, to me, the worst.
– Yeah. I know, with the skin.
– And I don’t know if I have any skin to close. Not really.
(groaning) – Right now, he’s actually
getting a surgical procedure to remove the barb that is
actually inside the wing. So, he received fluids, we
started him on antibiotics, we gave him an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller to
deal with the pain. If an animal can’t be
released to the wild and be able to survive
and catch prey, then the most humane
option would be to euthanize that animal. – [Veterinarian] All right,
well, let’s see if we can put Humpty Dumpty
back together again. – Most of the animals that come
into our clinic are injured or orphaned due
to human activity. So, what that can look
like, it can even look like hit by cars, it can look like
window strikes, poisonings, barbed wire, there’s
lots of different ways that those animals come to us,
but we’re not interested in interfering with natural cycles. We’re here to mitigate the
damage that humans are doing to ensure that we’re
being good stewards so that those animals
(bird cawing) who weren’t supposed
to be injured have a better
chance of survival. (clapping) – Now, you’re gonna pick him up and just place him over here. So he’ll be so the
right of his bed. (rustling) So, the bird we
were just looking at was an American white pelican. They’re migrating through
into Southern Alberta, and it was found in Brooks,
Alberta underneath a power line. They usually fly in flocks,
and what we suspect happened, there was a body of
water that was close by, so when they’re landing on
water, they usually circle the body of water to
land, and we don’t know if there was poor
visibility or high winds, but unfortunately,
the flock made contact with the power lines. The rest of the
flock were deceased, and he was the only survivor. We recall the tarsometatarsis, so it’s actually
part of the foot that joins up into the leg,
were completely crushed. So their bones are a little
different than other birds, where you would see a break,
a clean fracture across. Their bones are more like
a bullrush or a reed, and those bones were crushed. It was the first pelican
that we’ve done surgery on that had injuries this
severe, so we contacted the International Bird
Rescue Center in California, and they specialize in water
birds and specifically pelicans so we spoke with the
veterinarian there that’s done lots of
surgeries on pelicans and just discussed what the
best treatment and surgery would be for this bird. There’s a lot of rehabbers
that will specialize in different things, so we
all reach out to each other to get advice from each other. – Wildlife rehabilitation
has changed a lot. It’s definitely growing
and progressing, people are constantly
learning in this field, several centers are
collaborating with each other and sharing research, and it’s really going
towards vet medicine. – Water birds, they’re floating,
they’re buoyant in water, when you have them in captivity, there’s a few complications
you can run into, and that’s getting lesions
on the bottom of their feet, that can occur when they’re
walking on a hard surface or they’re out of the
water for too long, so we brought in some
sand and some rubber mats, we check his feet
daily just to make sure that nothing is occurring, and hopefully we’ll
release in a couple weeks. (slapping)
(clapping) (grumbling)
(chuckling) (somber piano music) – This is our first duckling
mallard of the season. He was found in a drain
pipe, he got stuck and the mom was able
to get one of them out, except he got left and
they tried to get him back to the mom, but the mom
wouldn’t take him anymore. So, they brought him here ’cause the magpies were looking
at him like he was a snack. (birds chirping) – So, this guy was found
on a broken beaver lodge by railroad tracks in the city, and he was on top of it crying,
so the guy waited an hour for the mom to come back,
and she never came back, so, most likely they, the
mother didn’t make it. Yeah, he’s just orphaned, and
he’s been putting on weight consistently every
night, so that’s good. And these guys,
they’re very social, so they need a lot of
contact to actually, to get them to eat and
to feel comfortable. But once he’s weaned, it’s basically gonna be
hands-off so he can just learn to be a wild beaver.
(slurping) – At this time of the
year specifically, we do get a lot of babies,
so that is part and parcel while you’re seeing a lot of
babies at this particular time. There’s a lot of babies that
get kidnapped, unfortunately, so people see babies that
are just sitting around, and the mother’s around,
she’s just avoiding the baby until it’s feeding time, and
people often see those babies and want to bring
them in for care. – [Emily] This is a
white tail prairie hare. They are a native species
of hare to the province. We get a lot of these guys in, a lot of people think
that they’re orphaned because they’re found
alone, which isn’t true, they are naturally found alone,
the mom leaves them alone all day, pretty much. We will take in pretty
much every single species, whether they’re invasives or
not, it’s a life that is here that humans, a lot of the time,
are the cause for, you know, them becoming orphans or
the injuries that they get. These are absolutely not a
good idea to have as pets. They are extremely,
extremely high-stress animals because they are a prey species, they get something
called capture myopathy, so it’s basically that
they become so stressed out that they basically have a
heart attack and just die. In general, rehabs have
a notoriously low number of success rates
with these guys, just because they
are so high-stress and they just kind
of die for no reason. – [Melanie] The
industry standard for wildlife rehabilitation
is approximately 30 percent, the center, last year, our
rehabilitation success rate was high 40s, low 50s. And that’s gonna fluctuate
from year to year depending on what
animals are coming in. It just makes it
worthwhile coming to work knowing that I can try to
help these animals in any way that I can, even if that means
this animal can’t be released to the wild, at least I
know that I can help it in some way into, at
least, ended suffering if that’s what’s needed. – [Veterinarian] Body
condition’s not good. – [Melanie] The barbed
wire was like ten inches. – [Veterinarian]
So we’ll just cut– – Is it in the skin? – [Veterinarian] Yeah.
– Yeah. – Oh, that’s nasty. Just don’t know if I have
any skin to close here. Alright. Okay, let’s look
at the other side. – Okay. – Looks reasonably good. I don’t know if that’s
gonna hold, but– – Yeah, let’s see. – We will see. – Hold the feet so that if it
wakes up it doesn’t kill us. – More like, like around here. (rustling) – Is his cage ready? Just the smallest
cage will fit him. We just have to wait for
him to wake up a little bit before we put him in his cage
so that he doesn’t suffocate. This morning we knocked
him down for x-rays and he came back
within five minutes, but sometimes when they’ve been
under for quite a long time, it can take anywhere
between 15 and 20 minutes. And we just want to make
sure that we’re kind of stimulating them, ’cause
if you’ve ever had surgery, you just want to keep
sleeping. (chuckling) (air whooshing) – [Melanie] So, we just
put this pool in today, it’s much smaller than the
pool that he had prior to this, we had a large pool that
took up most of this room, so because he’s being
released tomorrow, we’ve set up a smaller,
deeper pool just so I can– (crashing)
(chuckling) Just so I can see how he is
gonna do in deeper water. (splashing) (crashing) So that’s good, he’s floating
really well, and yeah, he’ll be good to go tomorrow. (cheerful piano music) – [Emily] We’re about to feed
baby eastern gray squirrels. These are the ones that
people see most often, they’re all of those gray
ones, all of those black ones that you see all over the city. These guys were found
really cold, kind of frozen, all alone, so we’re assuming
that they are actually orphaned so they were taken
to a vet clinic and then taken by
another facility and then transferred to us. He’s pretty finicky about
finding it with the eyes closed. – Some animals have adapted
(bird cawing) very well to urbanization,
so an example of an animal that has adapted
well is the magpie, we see lots of them
in our city, in fact, a lot of people consider
them pest species. But in fact, they are a
native species to this area, and I think it’s remarkable
how resilient they’ve been in the face of our
ongoing urbanization. (birds squawking) That’s something that
we generally find, that people have a dislike of
animals that have adapted well to human occupancy, and
that we have a real love for the animals that
don’t adapt well and who are struggling. (distant dog barking)
(clanking) – [Melanie] We want to come
out, you know, once a day, twice a day if we can, and
just walk around the enclosure. It’s helping to
condition those muscles and build up stamina. We just gave him treatment,
gave him some cage rest, and then did physio with
him for the last two months, until he’s able to fly,
and then we live-prey test the last couple weeks
just to make sure that he’s able to catch prey,
and he’s doing really well, so he’s ready to go. (gentle harp music) – [Melanie] We’re just outside
of Brooks at Badger Lake, and this is an ideal
habitat for pelicans, and this is not far from
where he actually was found. There are pelicans, actually, that live just over
on that island there, so this is an ideal
spot for releasing. Because he’s an adult owl, most
likely he has a mate around, so we want to release
them close to the area that they came from, so they
can go back to that mate. I love the feeling you
get from being able to release an animal that would
not have survived and that, because we were
able to care for it, is now getting a
second chance at life. (air whooshing) I think that’s a remarkable
and beautiful thing. (birds calling) (cheerful music)

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