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Reopening eyed for fire-damaged South Surrey animal-rescue centre

Urban Safari Rescue Society closed to public since January 2023

Officials with a South Surrey animal rescue centre that was devastated by fire more than a year ago are hoping to welcome the public back through its doors sometime this summer.

A newsletter update distributed last week notes things are “looking way up” for the Urban Safari Rescue Society.

In addition to finally getting the necessary building permits, an electric inspection at the 1395 176 St. centre also received the all-clear, the newsletter states.

“It means that the contractor can finally begin to install insulation, drywall, bathroom fixtures, lighting fixtures and heat,” it continues.

“In short, the smoke-damaged room can be restored, finished off and we have the expectation of reopening to visits from the public.”

Fire caused extensive damage to the South Surrey rescue centre in late January 2023. Around 60 of the 300-plus exotics – including reptiles, birds and sugar gliders – died in the blaze, and another 15 succumbed to smoke inhalation not long after.

READ MORE: Urban Safari’s opening delayed again nearly 1 year after fire

The space has been closed to the public ever since, although outreach education programs and animals care continued.

One year later, the society’s executive director Sharon Doucette told Peace Arch News that permitting issues made 2023 “the most frustrating year,” and that 2024 was “also uncertain.”

While there is no precise timeline for reopening, when the date is firmed up, it will be shared on the society’s website and social media accounts.

Meanwhile, the society is continuing to offer presentations in schools, daycares, seniors’ homes and other settings. For more information, email

They’re also planning a 50/50 fundraiser.

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On April 27, society representatives and some of their charges will participate in the City of Surrey’s Party for the Planet, set for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Surrey Civic Plaza.

In addition to having some of the animals on site in the city hall lobby, there will be a small presentation on stage at 12:20 p.m., as well as artwork for sale, with proceeds to benefit Urban Society.

with files from Sobia Moman

Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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