Nova Scotia's Hope for Wildlife offers firsthand education on natural world
Hope for Wildlife's Lynn Roger, left, and Hope Swinimer bottle feed an injured grey seal pup, originally named Sammy, but now named Valentine, at the facility in Seaforth, N.S., on Friday, Feb.12, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese)
Aly Thomson, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Monday, February 15, 2016 1:04PM AST
Last Updated Monday, February 15, 2016 1:06PM AST
SEAFORTH, N.S. -- A large black raven named Perry and dozens of waddling ducks greet visitors at the entrance of Hope for Wildlife, a safe haven for wild animals carved into the rocky coastline of Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore.
But it's no zoo -- many of the animals who live at the facility in Seaforth were once in dire straits and are now used to help educate people about wildlife rehabilitation and the natural world.
Take Tilly, the crow that came to the centre roughly 40 kilometres outside Halifax late last year with claws painted with pink nail polish.
Tilly was raised as a pet and doesn't know how to survive in the wild, so he now teaches visitors about his species. His coworkers include a corn snake, a fluffy grey chinchilla, a skunk named Max and two tiny turtles.
"Half of our workload is the actual rehabilitation work, but the other half is education, and what better way to educate than bringing people here for them to see firsthand?" said Hope Swinimer, founder and operator of Hope for Wildlife.
"When visitors come, we try and have them leave with an understanding of what wildlife rehabilitation is -- the reasons we get the wildlife to begin with, what we do to the wildlife while it's here, and everything from the minute it is admitted to the minute it is released back into the wild."
Staff at Hope for Wildlife teach visitors year-round about animals that commonly come through the centre -- everything from bald eagles to white-tailed deer and foxes. They also muse about what to do when coming across an injured animal and how to properly and respectfully deal with nuisance wildlife.
Several of Hope for Wildlife's outbuildings sit halfway up a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, giving visitors panoramic views of Nova Scotia's picturesque shoreline.
The centre also boasts a number of wooded walking trails.
"Not only does it combine education and science and rehabilitation, but it's also just a beautiful, peaceful place to come and enjoy the morning or afternoon," said Swinimer over the sound of a crowing rooster.
Swinimer said in a world that's becoming increasingly digital, it's important to teach children about nature.
"People are not going to grow up to love and respect nature unless they're exposed to it. So a big part of what we do is educating kids, to get them reconnected with the Earth and get them to feel joy for the natural world."
If You Go...
- Admission to Hope for Wildlife is free, though donations are welcome.
- The facility is open for tours between Sept. 30 and June 1 on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Between June 1 and Sept. 30, the facility is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- For groups of 10 or more people, email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a tour.