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Wild party planned at Critter Care this weekend

Critter Care intern Rick Kuijpers holds an ailing coyote pup. The Dutch vet technician said wildlife is scarce in his homeland and urged Canadians to protect the country’s wild species and the land they inhabit. - Monique TAMMINGA/Langley Times
Critter Care intern Rick Kuijpers holds an ailing coyote pup. The Dutch vet technician said wildlife is scarce in his homeland and urged Canadians to protect the country’s wild species and the land they inhabit.
— image credit: Monique TAMMINGA/Langley Times

Critter Care volunteer intern Rick Kuijpers holds an emaciated coyote cub with care as he tries to give him liquid minerals and electrolytes through a syringe at Critter Care wildlife rehabilitation centre on Wednesday.

The four-week-old cub came into the centre just a day before and his prognosis doesn’t look good, said Kuijpers.

But Kuijpers, who hails from the Netherlands and is a veterinarian technician, does not plan to give up.

“These guys didn’t invade our space, we are living in their territory. We need to learn to live together,” said Kuijpers.

“I come from the Netherlands where we jam 16 million people into space smaller than Vancouver Island. We have no wildlife.”

He came to Canada to work with wildlife after working with domesticated animals.

He says his country has a few foxes and birds as wildlife. In Canada, there are beautiful open spaces and wildlife that need to be protected, he said.

Critter Care, B.C.’s only rehabilitation centre for the province’s injured and orphaned wildlife, is home to 14 interns who come from all corners of the globe to work, hands on, with B.C. wildlife, including bear cubs, sea otters and raccoons.

This year 16 bear cubs were released back to the wild.

While the centre is closed to the public most of the year, Critter Care opens its gates to the public for two days this Saturday and Sunday, July 14 and 15, offering a unique opportunity to see a working rehabilitation centre up close and personal, including viewing the hilarious antics of baby raccoons, fawns, sea otters and more from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

There is plenty of entertainment for young and old as well.

The work at Critter Care is never-ending. Much like with a newborn, most babies need to be bottle fed every two hours if they come in very young.

Last week, two otters came in from Maple Ridge at only a week old. They will be bottle fed until 12 weeks, when they will start to swim and eat fish.

As The Times was interviewing Critter Care founder Gail Martin, a conservation officer dropped off an orphaned fawn.

She was quickly checked over and introduced to the other two fawns in the deer enclosure.

One of those deer, Fae was rescued at Brae Island two weeks ago. Flooding separated the young fawn from her mother. She was abandoned. She has mange but intern Lisa Kril has been treating her with an anti-parasitic and it’s almost all gone. she said.

All three will be ready to be re-released to the wild in late August.

Located in South Langley’s Campbell Valley Park, the centre takes in hundreds of native mammals a year, including fawns, beaver, sea otters, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, bobcats, squirrels and bear cubs.

Gail Martin, executive director and founder, began taking in orphaned raccoons in the 1980s. Now the centre is run by a collective of volunteers and interns.

Run on donations, the funds raised from the open house and donations go to purchasing things like specialized baby formula for the busy spring and summer baby seasons. This formula costs the society $25,000 a year and can’t be bought in Canada.

Formula, vaccines, medical supplies and specialized foods — like fish for the otters — cost Critter Care around $60,000 per year.

Critter Care has been taking in orphaned bears since 2004, returning more than 75 bruins back to the wild so far.

The public is invited to come out for a guided tour of the animals and enjoy live entertainment from Paws-2-Dance, First Nations drummer, dancer and storyteller Randy Tait as well as lots of fun for the kids including jump castle, dunk tank, pony rides, face painting and visits with Township firefighters and their fire truck or RCMP officers and their patrol car.

Critter Care is always happy to accept paper products like paper towels and toilet paper and large plastic bags.

Critter Care is located at 481 216 St.

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