As a rehabilitation centre, our goal is to always release sick and injured animals back to their natural habitat after recovery. 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 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. Our two mammal ambassadors are Marmalade, a hoary marmot, and Ollie, a striped skunk.
Marmots are attracted to the minerals in cars and will often climb into the wheel wells of vehicles and be transported from the mountains into the city, resulting in displacement and often injury.
Marmalade was found in a carwash and had sustained some injuries as well as head trauma. She was brought to Calgary Wildlife for treatment, and, although her external injuries healed, Marmalade was left with long-term brain damage, which inhibits her fear of predators, making it unsafe for her to return to the wild.
In spite of her challenges, Marmalade perseveres and lives a very happy life with us at Calgary Wildlife. She can often be found napping on the rocks in her outdoor enclosure or enjoying a handful of dandelion greens from a staff member.
Ollie came to us after being raised in someone’s home and treated as a pet. He was imprinted, which means, as a baby, he became attached to humans and is now habituated to them.
After coming to Calgary Wildlife, Ollie was introduced to other skunks unsuccessfully. Due to his inability to integrate with others of his species and his habituation to people, it was unsafe to release him to the wild.
So, Ollie became an Education Ambassador. As skunks are often disliked or viewed as pests, the educational work Ollie does is extremely important for his species.
Ollie can be found enjoying an afternoon snooze or solving a puzzle feeder for a tasty treat.
Although Marmalade and Ollie are provided with as good a life as possible in their circumstances, it is important that these situations do not continue to occur.
Always check your vehicle for marmots before you leave the mountains by banging on the hood and wheel wells to dislodge any hitchhiking rodents before you drive back to the city.
If you find an orphaned baby animal, immediately contact Calgary Wildlife at (403) 214-1312.
By surrendering them to rehabilitation clinic, they will receive the care they need to prepare them for a life in their natural habitat.
*Note* A week after publication, Ollie sadly passed away peacefully after a brief illness. He will be sorely missed by the whole Calgary Wildlife team.