As a rehabilitation centre, our goal is to always release sick and injured animals back to their natural habitat after recovery, but in a few instances, some patients are unable to be released back into the wild.
In some special cases, when an animal is unable to be safely returned to the wild, they can stay on at Calgary Wildlife as permanent residents, known as Education Ambassadors.
Some of our Education Ambassadors visit schools and other community organizations, where they feature in classes which teach the public about the importance of local wildlife, with an opportunity to see and learn about these animals up close.
We have both mammal and avian Education Ambassadors. Two of our avian ambassadors are Ophelia, a great horned owl, and Lito, a Swainson’s hawk.
Lito came to us with a fractured wing. Unfortunately, through his treatment process his flight did not improve enough for him to be rereleased to the wild. Instead, he became one of our Education Ambassadors.
Swainson’s hawks are one of the most common birds of prey in Alberta, and are often found in urban settings, so Lito’s work educating the public is very important to help Calgarians appreciate local wildlife.
Ophelia arrived at Calgary Wildlife with a broken wing. Her bones healed and she was able to fly again, but the extent of scar tissue from her injury made it difficult for her to execute the complex manoeuvres needed for hunting. As she would be unable to effectively hunt and feed herself in the wild, Ophelia was kept as an Education Ambassador.
As owls are nocturnal, many people may not have the opportunity to see them close up, if at all. Ophelia’s classes provide attendees with an interaction with a real owl, as well as in depth information on how owls live and how to be considerate of local wildlife.
Ophelia taught thousands of Calgarians over the years about the amazing life of owls before retiring in the summer of 2023.