By: Avery M. and Shannon A.
Avery: I had been dealing with health problems for about a year when I finally got in to see a specialist, where I was basically told I needed to change my entire diet to stop suffering from migraines and stomach aches. This meant no dairy, no preservatives, nothing processed, no alcohol -yeah I know, nearly impossible for a university student- basically I was told to eat veggies, fruits and grains only. So I took it as an opportunity to just go completely clean and eat only vegan food pretty much over night. It took a ton of research into the entire vegan scene and while searching through various pieces of anti-meat articles, I came to a controversy I had not considered. A former vegetarian was discussing why he gave up the vegetarian lifestyle when he realized that even a completely plant based diet kills animals.
It's an interesting concept. The land we grow our food on was once animals homes, as was the land we live on. Or farmers could use electric fences or pesticides to harm animals. This article pointed out that no species can ever exist without influencing another species, usually negatively. Humans are the best at that, causing destruction to other species. So if you can't save all the animals like the vegans want to believe, why even try? It also pointed out that animal lovers only care about the cute, fuzzy ones, like pets. Which is true, I like my dog more than I like most people. Or the tastier animals, the ones we see on our dinner plate like pigs or cows, probably because we can see directly how we affect these animals by killing them for food. But a lot of vegans and vegetarians forget about the wilder animals, the ones in your own neighbourhood.
Shannon: There's animals everywhere, even in an urban city like Toronto. But they are mostly forgotten. Even we forgot about them, we were originally going to do this podcast on the local humane society. But as we started researching, we discovered the Toronto Wildlife Centre, and something about their website caught our attention.
Shannon: We honestly had never even heard of the Toronto Wildlife Centre before. When we were looking on their website I was thinking like ‘oh it’s a rehabilitation centre for animals that are injured’. Thinking of pets though, like if you have a lizard or bird as a pet. But after we researched the website I saw that the Toronto wildlife centre provides rehabilitation to wildlife in Toronto. We didn’t even consider featuring wild animals prior to searching for an organization.
Avery: And this is where our podcast Where the Toronto Wildlife Things began. I'm Avery
Shannon: And I'm Shannon.
And we will be informing you about the Toronto Wildlife Centre. What it does, easy ways you can get involved, and why you should care about making a difference in the lives of wild animals.
Avery: While researching for this organization we started to think what would we do if we saw a wild animal in danger. If I saw an owl or a deer in needing of help I wouldn’t of known what to do. This was also a similar case when I asked two friends of ours what they would do if they saw an injured wild animal on the street.
Stefanie gave us an expected answer to our question.
Shannon: Stefanie's solution is what most people would do, probably what we would have done, that she would ignore it. Why would we ignore the situation?
Avery:I’m in a hurry.
Shannon: It’s just a raccoon.
Avery:It will get freed on its own.
Shannon: I don’t want to touch it.
Avery: It could be dangerous.
Shannon: This next clip is Amanda who gave us a very long and elaborate answer. She says that she would analyze the situation and see how she could help.
Wrong. By helping it yourself you are going to scare the wild animal and you could hurt it or yourself in the process.
Avery: So both of these answers are actually wrong. The thing to do is to call the Toronto Wildlife Centre. They are trained professionals and will know exactly how to deal with the situation.
Shannon: The Toronto Wildlife Centre admits injured, orphaned, or sick wild animals and provides them with medical rehabilitation services. They release the wild animals that they admit back into the wild where they can life their lives healthy. They have approximately 5,000 animals in need of the centre’s help a year and out of the 5,000 they have over 270 unique species.
Avery: The Toronto Wildlife Centre does not “baby” the animals back to health, they make sure to reflect the animal’s psychological needs like it’s still defending for itself in the wild.
Shannon: That's good because it keeps their wild instincts in tact in order for them to live their life where they should: in their natural habitats.
Avery: If you look at zoos, the animals are not living their beneficial life. They’re in a confined space and are fed by the zoo workers rather than hunting for their own food like they would be doing in the wild. Most animals in zoos become depressed because their not getting the opportunity to life their lives free like they would in their real environment.
Shannon: The Toronto Wildlife centre is actually one of the biggest and busiest in the country, something you might not suspect in an urban city. It is also not like a regular animal shelter- open to the public, with volunteers of all skill levels- everyone who works there must be able to give wild animals the treatment they need without affecting their wild instincts. It's a lot harder than just taking stray dogs for walks or cleaning cages. The jobs volunteers perform are wildly ranged and require problem-solving, resourcefulness and commitment. Not to mention specialized knowledge and even legal permits.
Avery: The rehabilitation process starts with answering the call of a concerned resident with an animal in need. They have to assess the situation, show up to the site, somehow deliver the animal from any immediate danger and then capture them without scaring the animal too much or endangering any of the parties involved. Definitely not an easy task, especially when you're rescuing a creature that doesn't understand that you're trying to help them.
Shannon: And each animal and situation is different, its a job that requires adaptability. But what is the alternative? Letting a suffering creature fend for itself? This seems like the natural order of the world, until you realize how much humans are to blame. We have mixed innocent lives in with a human world they know nothing about, creating countless dangers for wild animals. Taking the efforts to try to save the ones we can is the least we can do.
Avery: And this is where the Toronto wildlife centre comes in, they not only rescue these animals, but have the resources to give them continuous care until they are well again. They'll treat their physical wounds, check for parasites, and give them the constant care they need for a full recovery. But even more importantly, they do so while taking care of their psychological needs.
Shannon: Yeah, that's arguably the most important part. Similar to university students during exams, stress can take a serious toll on animals. It can worsen their health problems, or even be fatal. Volunteers have to make sure they are comfortable, but never encroach on their wild instincts. And preparing them for re-entrance into the wild goes past helping with their physical wounds. You'd have to make sure that they're psychologically prepared and that their time spent in captivity hasn't negatively affected their minds.
Avery: Not an easy task.
Shannon: but it is essential in order for them to live on their own again in the wild.
Avery: And in my opinion, its worth doing. It really bothers me what that former vegetarian said in that article, that he'd just quit the entire life style when he realized he couldn't save all animals. Of course, you can't save every single animal life, but don't you want to save as many as you can? Life is precious, and humans destroy so much of it. And the little bits you do, they make a difference. I mean the Toronto wildlife centre, they save around five thousand lives a year, which is a pretty incredible number. And they didn't do it all at once, they saved one at a time and just did the best that they could. We should all want to do that. We shouldn't feel like its an inconvenience to avoid harming animals and to lend a helping hand when they need it, it should be a responsibility. Or a way to right the harmful influence humans have on wildlife.
Shannon: I don’t think people even realize how many wild animals there are in Toronto. Like me for example, before we did research on this project. I grew up in a town called Coldwater up north and it’s all woods. We saw so many moose, deer, and bears on our road it was crazy. While driving late at night I always hoped that I would catch a glimpse of a moose or deer in the woods because their just so cute. When I moved to Toronto my dad told me “You won’t see any of them in the city.” When actually there are numerous different species of wild animals in the city. There are literally birds on every street. And just last week I saw a raccoon in my backyard.
Avery: We need to be aware of problems that we are causing to harm these animals. If you look on the Toronto Wildlife Centre’s website under the tab ‘wildlife tips’ they educate you on various things you can do to protect wild animals from being hurt. One post describes how you can bird proof your windows. Birds flying into windows is an ongoing problem. Each year over 1000 birds get admitted to the Centre that have injuries from flying into windows.
Shannon: Ways you can bird proof your windows include putting decals or hanging material on the outside of the window in order to block the reflection. Did you know that also spitting out your gum outside is a potential choking hazard to tiny birds? Small birds might mistake the gum for bread and choke on it.
Avery: And not spitting your gum out on the street isn't that hard to do, you should try to be a sanitary human being anyway.
Shannon: You may be wondering what are some other ways you can help. You can donate to the Toronto Wildlife Centre or volunteer there.
Avery: Your donations go towards the medical care equipment, food, and the enclosures for the wild animals. You can donate on their website by clicking the donate tab. You can enter any amount that you want to give. To volunteer you do not need experience for some of the positions as the Centre provides training. Some volunteer positions include wild life care volunteers, wild life hotline volunteers, and volunteer drivers. Not only would you be saving an injured animals life, but you also get to be around animals all day.
Shannon: So, if you have a younger brother or sister that is 16 years old and is looking for a volunteer position for their high school community service hours, why not tell them about the Toronto Wild life Centre because then they can save animals lives and stuff.
Avery: The Centre does internships for people who are 18 years old and up. In the internship, some things that you will be educated on is wild life nutrition and assisting in the rehabilitation process for injured or sick wild life. They also have University Placements.
Shannon: The Toronto Wildlife centre is both beneficial to humans and animals. The Centre helps to educate humans in ways that they can live their everyday life while not disturbing animals.
Avery: You can help the Toronto Wildlife centre and other organizations like this by even doing small things. For example, basic things that we learned in elementary school that helped to save the environment. If you see a potential hazardous object to animals around your house or on the street pick it up and safely throw it in the garbage. Throw out your garbage in a garbage bin rather than on the sidewalk. And do not feed wild animals, like the geese on campus, food that could be toxic to them.
Shannon: If you ever see a wild animal that is in trouble call the Toronto Wildlife Centre’s Emergency Hotline at 416-631-0662. Don’t try to help it yourself and don’t just walk by leaving it to defend for itself. It's common sense here people.
Avery: Just because they’re not your pet doesn’t mean that you should ignore them or not respect them. Wild animals are living breathing creatures that have no voice for themselves. When people become aware of the ways that they can help then animals and humans can both live peacefully in Toronto together.
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