Wildlife center begins difficult relocation process

March 16, 2011 7:25:20 PM PDT
An Oakland wildlife center facing eviction has found a new home, and now volunteers are racing against the clock to get it ready. Generous ABC7 viewers have come through with help for the center which cares for orphaned and injured animals. However, more help is still needed.

The Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue Center has been rescuing orphaned and injured animals for the past 10 years. It is the only rescue center of its kind in the Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda area; the last resort for wild animals who've been hit by cars, attacked by dogs, or lost their mothers.

But as we first reported last summer, the animals are being evicted because the landlord has other plans for the property. Volunteers searched desperately for a new home, and they are finally getting one.

"The first shed right here is going to be the infirmary to keep the animals in cages after they come in and they are stabilized," says volunteer Roy Richards.

The beginning of the new wildlife center is on a private lot just a few blocks from the old center in the Oakland Hills. The labor is all volunteer.

Money for the relocation came from a grant and $15,000 in donations from people who learned about the center's plight from the media, including ABC7 News.

"I can get up close with the animals and have an impact," says volunteer Phillip Zinsli. "Wildlife enriches us all."

Lila Travis, co-founder and director of the center, volunteers as many as 70 hours a week herself and she's thrilled by the public response.

"Just an incredible thank you to the community for coming forward with help," says Travis.

There is still a lot to be done.

"It's very tricky because we can't just throw everything into a truck and move over," she says. "We have animals that we need to moved and in order to that we have to have a place secure for them at the new location."

The center is under pressure to move as fast possible. The indoor part of the new facility is well underway. But outside they need to build large pens on a steep hillside. A natural-feeling enclosure is critical for animals that will eventually be released back into the wild.

"Unfortunately, we've run out of funding and we're going to have to start a new campaign to raise some funds and find some skilled construction workers who can help us with that stage of the project," says Travis.

In the meantime, nature is not waiting for moving day.

"Babies are being born right now," says Travis.

The wildlife center has never turned away an injured or orphaned animal, even during this relocation crisis. That is what keeps volunteers like John Sweeney coming back. Sweeney started helping out after he found an injured animal.

"Most vets won't take in wildlife and there are no other places around," he says. "It's great to be able to bring them up and see them get good care and get back to living the good life."

Last year the wildlife center rehabilitated more than 700 animals. However, they need more money and volunteers to do it again this year. For information on how you can help, visit the Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue Center website.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney

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