toronto wildlife centre

The Toronto Wildlife Centre is getting thousands of calls about orphaned baby animals

It's that time of year again — baby animals are getting separated from their parents, and the Toronto Wildlife Centre is getting thousands of calls from people who have no clue what to do with them. 

According to the TWC, the beginning of summer is an extremely busy time for orphaned animals like baby squirrels, raccoons, birds, rabbits, skunks and turtles. 

And if you happen to stumble on one, you'll have take on the very serious — albeit adorable — responsibility of figuring out what to do next. 

The first thing you should do is call a wildlife rehabilitation centre hotline right away. The TWC is one of them, but if there's a centre closer to your area of Ontario, reach out to them instead. 

A wildlife rehabilitator will tell you what your next steps are over the phone, depending on where you found the baby, its species, and its condition. 

Oliver and his wife noticed a trail of wood ducklings wandering around as if they were looking for their mother. As Oliver watched them, he realized there were no adults leading the way or guarding the peeping babies. He knew they wouldn’t last the night without their parents, so he quickly gathered them into a box and contacted TWC’s hotline for help. Now, the baby wood ducks are safe and receiving specialized care! It’s critical that they eat enough to maintain a healthy weight as they grow. Watch as Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern Sharlene gently moves each duckling into a bin of shallow water, along with sprinkling some nutritious food for them to snack on. As they grow older and their feathers fully develop, they’ll be able to swim more often and for longer periods of time. At their current age they can tire easily, and it’s important their swims are supervised to make sure the ducklings don’t get wet and cold. Once they’re old enough to start diving and grazing on their own food, they’ll be able to start their lives anew in the wild! . . . . . #woodducks #ducklings #duck #ducksofinstagram #duckswim #birdsofinstagram #birds #bird #waterbirds #ontario #wildlife #nature

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The TWC website also has a page dedicated to handling orphaned baby wild animals while you wait for further instruction. It's advised not to give food or water to the animal until you've spoken to someone on the phone.

Just know this: right now is the busiest time of year for all wildlife rehab centres across the province, meaning there's a chance the centre you call will be at capacity. 

If that's the case, the wildlife rehabilitator will probably tell you to call 311, and the city will likely send someone to pick up the baby and — sadly, if there are no other options — provide humane euthanasia. 

Your first instinct then will probably be to try and raise the baby yourself, but the TWC advises against that too. 

"While their heart is in the right place, personally taking care of orphaned wildlife is never recommended, even for a short time." 

"Following care information for wildlife found online can create even worse situations. If given fluids improperly, liquid can fill the lungs and lead to severe complications; improper food can cause bloating, diarrhea and even death."

"Each species has their own nutritional needs and providing milk replacements to a baby meant for a different species can be harmful. And handling of babies must always be limited to avoid imprinting and to keep the animals wild." 

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