Sandy Pines’ annual Baby Shower a huge draw as guests get behind the scenes look at animal rehab facility

Adriana Larios, avian team leader at Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre, feeds a baby crow during SPWC's annual Baby Shower and Open House on May 12. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Adam Prudhomme

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre offered a rare peak behind the curtain on Mother’s Day, opening their doors for their annual Baby Shower and Open House.

Guests had the chance to tour the facility and look into various rooms as staff and volunteers bottle fed some of the tiny critters currently in their care including squirrels, raccoons and a wide range of birds.

“It’s the only time that we have patients that they’re all so young that they’re really not bothered by an influx of people for one day and it’s a great chance to show people what we’re doing behind the scenes,” said Leah Birmingham, medical director of SPWC. “We’re not a zoo and the animals aren’t on display. It’s a bit of a mystery to the public what goes on beyond those doors. We like to be able to have them and of course fundraise as well. We want people to understand too where the money does when they donate.”

Feeding time for a baby squirrel. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Like any baby shower, guests were encouraged to bring gifts for the newborns, which they dropped off in a playpen upon entry. The annual event is huge for the non-profit organization that relies on community support to cover a large portion of their day-to-day operating costs.

The Napanee animal rehabilitation centre is well-known across the province, taking in injured and orphaned animals from all across Ontario. Though many people are aware of its existence, few ever get to see the inner-workings of the facility outside of the annual baby shower.

A baby weasel enjoys a snack. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Early spring is always a busy time as that’s typically when birthrates are at their highest among a wide range of species. That can lead to increased human interaction, which results in issues if not handled correctly.

“It’s not just the fundraising but it’s the education we can do so that people learn,” Birmingham said of the event. “In every room when you’re talking to staff about the care they’re providing the animals, they’re also being able to answer questions like ‘why is it that we have so many racoons?’ It’s because people have seen an adult, they decided to trap and relocate it and then the next day they find the babies. Meanwhile if they had called us ahead, we can teach them ways to encourage her to go and she’ll move on her own.”

Charlotte greets guests during SPWC’s annual Baby Shower. Photo by Adam Prudhomme.

Birmingham says SPWC would much rather help talk a homeowner through the process of getting an animal to leave on its own accord as opposed to having a mom separated from her babies.

Racoons in particular are known to have several dens set up in an area that they will relocate to if their current shelter is not suitable.

“They will move on, you just have to make that nesting site not safe,” said Birmingham. “Often they’ve picked areas that are quiet, away from people. Close enough to people that predators aren’t bugging them other than humans, but quiet enough that humans aren’t in their exact living space.”

Despite the threat of rain, the baby shower was once again a huge draw.

For more information on how to deal with a wildlife issue or to learn more about donating to the centre, visit

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