Dodge Guest Speaker at Kawartha Wildlife Centre Benefit Gala

Wildlife lovers should mark their calendars for March 7.

That's the night Kawartha Wildlife Centre is hosting a benefit gala.

It's happening at Elmhirst Resort near Keene from 7 to 10 p.m.

 The business-casual event includes a silent auction with work by local artists, educational games, prizes and draws, music, guest speakers, a photo booth, hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar, Tickets are $75 each and all proceeds support wildlife care expenses, such as food and medication. 

"Wildlife care expenses are so variable … so the gala provides that cushion to make sure we can do this and do it well," said Thomas Luloff, chair of the wildlife centre's board.

Guest speakers include Tamara Hoogerdyk, who'll speak about her experiences in wildlife care, and wildlife artist Kelly Dodge will speak about the inspiration behind her art.

The centre has yet to officially launch, but is expected to open this year, if everything goes smoothly, Luloff said. Licensing is currently underway.

The centre is focused on quality over quantity, he emphasized, so it takes time to get things right.

The centre, a non-profit charitable organization, runs completely on volunteers. Ria Wood is taking over as the wildlife rehabilitator and is working on her certificate to become wildlife rehabilitation custodian. 

Last May, the group finally landed a place to call home. They're leasing a former veterinary clinic at 470 Robinson Rd. in Ennismore.


An outdoor enclosure has already been added and soon there'll be a wildlife habitat garden, too.

Part of the centre's mandate is to educate people on how to live responsibly with wildlife.

The centre's wildlife habitat is just one way to show the public how they can help wildlife at home, Luloff said.

"It'll be a living and breathing way of teaching people how they can create wildlife habitat in their own backyard."

For a donation, the group's ambassadors are also available to speak to groups about wildlife and showcase exhibits, such as pelts and skulls.

In the spring, the centre will launch a free speakers series focused on wildlife topics.

It will be the first wildlife centre in the Kawarthas. The closest ones now are in Minden and Pefferlaw.

Once the centre gets its licensing, volunteers will be able to care for injured wildlife. Until then, it'll act as a drop-off point for wounded animals, saving the rescuer from making an hour-long or more drive.

When the time comes to open the doors, Luloff said the centre will put a call out to the community with any needs, such as volunteers, supplies or drivers.

In the meantime, Luloff said the best thing the community can do is lend a financial hand. That could be through attending the gala, donating or becoming a centre member.

Yearly memberships are $50 and come with a tax receipt.

Looking ahead, Luloff hopes the centre becomes a hub for wildlife lovers.

"If you are interested in Ontario wildlife and you really want to become involved … or you just want to support a cause that's dedicated to helping Ontario wildlife — this is the place to be."