I had the chance to visit the California Wildlife Center during their recent Open House and was completely blown away by all the amazing work they do. The Center is located about halfway between Malibu and Calabasas off Malibu Canyon Road. It’s tucked away in the middle of the woods surrounded by hills and greenery, a rare and beautiful natural setting for Los Angeles.
The California Wildlife Center rescues and rehabilitates sick, injured and orphaned animals native to California with the intent of releasing them back into the wild. This mission keeps the few staff and squadron of volunteers very, very busy. Since 1998 when the organization was founded, the Center has cared for more than 32,000 animals!
They help all sorts of animals including birds, deer, opossums and coyotes, just to name a few. Unfortunately, many of the rescued animals are in trouble because they’ve suffered from what the Center refers to as “negative human interactions.” The Center takes in and cares for mostly land-based animals, but they also have an agreement with the City of Malibu to rescue marine mammals stranded along the city’s 27-miles of coastline.
Even though they don’t care for marine mammals onsite, their rescue responsibility has kept them insanely busy this year with the hundreds of sea lion pup strandings that have been all over the news in Southern California. (This video provides a great overview about all the issues surrounding the sea lion pup strandings.) According to Victoria Harris, a volunteer and President of the Board, they are receiving 50 to 60 calls a day about sea lion pups needing help and when the sea lion pups are picked up they only weigh 15 pounds when they should weigh about 40.
Rescued sea lions are taken to the Marine Mammal Care Center (MMCC) in San Pedro, but due to the overwhelming demand the California Wildlife Center is going to be lending a hand with marine mammal care for the first time. Sea lion pups needing care will continue to go MMCC, but to make more room, the California Wildlife Center will be taking in their elephant seals. So in two short weeks they have been tasked with designing and building an enclosure to accommodate their soon to be arriving elephant seal guests. And there are a lot of things to consider such as how to dispose of 200 pounds of elephant seal poop and where to order 33,000 pounds of fish.
Thankfully, they received a $75,000 grant to help cover the costs for the elephant seal enclosure, but they still had to raise $25,000 on their own within days to make all this happen. Very impressive! During the tour we saw the first phase of construction, which was mostly a platform and two enormous plastic containers to hold all the poop. I look forward to seeing photos of the completed project on their Facebook page.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the things I learned at the California Wildlife Center, stay tuned for more fascinating facts and other important information animal fans should know. In the meantime, they are looking for more volunteers, so if you are interested in helping please visit the volunteer section of their website and donations are always welcome.