Time to get up close and personal

Public invited to come out and meet B.C.’s rescued animals this weekend at Langley's Critter Care

Critter Care intern Elizabeth Clark has her hands full with what has been one of the largest influxes of orphaned or injured fawns the Langley wildlife centre has seen.

They’re wild, woolly and down-right adorable — and for two days only each year, the public is invited to come get up close and personal with B.C.’s rescued baby animals. This year it happens on Saturday and Sunday, July 13 and 14.

Critter Care Rehabilitation Centre, at 481 216 St., in Campbell Valley Park, will open its gate from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days, offering tours to meet baby raccoons, sea otter pups, Bambi-like fawns, skunks and more.

This year’s open houses, run completely by volunteers, will be done with heavy hearts.

On June 27, Critter Care’s ambassador Hoover,  the bobcat, who is a highlight to see on the tours, died of aggressive cancer. She was 12 years old, and was hand-raised by Critter Care founder Gail Martin, who took her in at eight weeks old, malnourished and dying. Unlike every other animal that comes to the five-acre property, she could not be rehabilitated to the wild.

Martin is urging people to come and enjoy all the fun in what is turning out to be their busiest years of taking in injured or orphaned wildlife.

“We are way up in the number of animals we have taken in. We took in 301 animals  just in the month of June alone,” said Martin.

With so much land being developed there just is nowhere left for these animals to live, she said. They have 10 fawns to date.

The cost to feed and provide formula is going to be through the roof this year.

“It’s a worry,”said Martin.

“But my knees are already shot from begging. I had an MRI done on them yesterday, and I don’t think I can anymore,” she half-joked.

The centre, which sees up to 1,000 native wild animals each year, is run on donations and some government grant money, but very little. Three weeks ago they released five bears back to the wild. Volunteers come from around the world, stay on-site to help care for these animals.

The open house will also have plenty of entertainment, including the West Coast Thunder Drill Team, RCMP officers, fire truck from Hall 5, games for the kids including bouncy castle and dunk tank, crafters and barbecue when you get hungry. New this year, will be four wooden deck chairs hand-painted by local artists up for auction.

There is plenty of parking and it’s $2 to get in, free for kids. Donations of toilet paper, paper towels and blankets are always appreciated. Note: register for a tour the minute you get there to make sure you get in.

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