Wild Times

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Open March 13 - 21, 12 - 5pm each day

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Name an animal that can freeze in the winter and thaw in the spring and be just fine.

Email us your answer and win a free visit.

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March 2010

In this Issue

Woody goes to the Olympics

It just wouldn’t be right to not have our national animal at the Canadian hosted Olympics...so we took Woody to Whistler!

Woody at the Olympics

The Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) recognized the potential exposure that the Olympics could bring to their organization and it’s mandate of wildlife conservation through education. CWF contacted us for a couple of reasons; our centre’s director, Jody Gienow (the author of this article) is the on-screen host for the Federation’s Hinterland Who’s Who public service announcements and because the Muskoka Wildlife Centre is home to Canada’s most gifted and seasoned travelling education beaver. Woodrow (a.k.a. Woody) has been travelling to different venues across Canada and the U.S. since he was a baby. His 6 years of life so far, have seen him involved in a stage production with the famous Kratt brothers, in numerous wildlife documentaries, aired on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, in ads for Bandaid and Motts Clamato and in 2 separate starring roles (a mommy beaver and a grandpa beaver) for a big screen film production, seen in theatres, called “White Tuft-The Little Beaver”...and that’s just to name a few of his exploits. The list goes on and on. He has been part of our live-animal outreach team his whole life, travelling to countless organized groups spreading the word about beavers, wetlands and conservation in general.

Jody Woody Olympics

Our adventure started with arranging Woodrow’s legal papers to travel to British Columbia and preparing his luggage, which included lots of rodent cookies, his special kibble-not available in pet stores, lots of towels and a water spray bottle-to keep him fresh. We arrived at Pearson Airport to a lot of very excited Air Canada employees, some of which had met Woody previously on another one of his past flights. After a quick meet and greet and some quick camera phone pics taken, he was off to be loaded on the plane, in his big dog crate.

Once in B.C., we met up with our traveling companions, Louis (the French Hinterland Who’s Who host) and Nathan (our fearless project leader) and were driven to our condo in Whistler. Woody quickly got to know his new accommodations and found himself soaking in the bathtub within minutes of arrival. Our first engagement was a visit to the Squamish and L’il Watt Cultural Centre, where we talked about Wetland Conservation and about the significance of beaver fur trade in the settlement of our great country. We brought along multi-media (our public service announcements were played on a big screen), but Woody was the show-stopper, as per usual, and was quite happy to sit and be fed a constant stream of rodents cookies while our audience looked on in awe. The next few days were filled with visits to places of public interest within the Olympic village, like the giant rings at the entrance way and the photo-op bobsled, where we did some impromptu public education with all who would listen (having a friendly beaver certainly helped keep people’s attention).

Woody had his first Gondola ride to the top of Whistler to be interviewed for Australian television live. It didn’t take long for the skiers on the mountain to catch wind of Woody’s presence on the mountain and after shooting our t.v. bit we had quite a crowd gathered, which of course we took advantage of and did some more impromptu education.

Woody at Olympics on the Mountain

We spent one morning in a glass studio right in the Olympic village, where we were part of a bilingual interview that was broadcast live (and again several times after recording) throughout the Olympics on big screens that were everywhere. Woodrow was invited to the Olympic House for a pancake breakfast event (with 1600 in attendance), where he partook in another fantastic public presentation for families. He wrapped up that adventure by meeting some real Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who were more excited to meet him than he was to meet them. His belly was full from rodent cookies by this point and let’s face it, Woody has seen everything... oblivious to what the fuss was all about he kept falling asleep in my arms. Come to think of it, Woody just basically got fed cookies, spent time being bathed and napping and us humans were the one’s doing all of the hard work... controlling crowds, designing and delivering presentations, driving around the very crowded Whistler, arranging media interviews, making salads for Woody, deconstructing lodges built noisily through the night by a well rested beaver...

Jody, Woody and the Mounties

Our visit to the 2010 Olympics was a huge success. We were able to garner lots of national and international media attention and we spoke to so many people about the need to protect wild species and spaces in this beautiful country. We came home tired and feeling overwhelmingly proud to be Canadian. As for Woody, he was happy to reunite with his sister Millie, who gave him a head to toe grooming, as soon as she could get her paws on him.

Creature Feature - Beaver

Woodrow the BeaverOkay, so we all think we know about the beaver right?  After all, it is our national animal.  I think we, as Canadians, take the beaver for granted and there is so much to marvel at if you take a closer look at this giant rodent.  In our outreach programs we always introduce the beaver as nature’s ‘multi-tool’.  There are so many amazing natural adaptations that this animal has?

  • Teeth -their orange, iron coated, self sharpening teeth are perfect for chiseling wood
  • Toe nails -they have one double toe nail on each back foot they use to comb their fur after a dip
  • Oil -they have two types of oil just inside their cloaca (pocket for private parts), that they use for both waterproofing their fur, and scent-marking their territory
  • Fur -their double layered fur has a warm undercoat and a waterproof outer layer
  • Feet -their back feet are huge and webbed and give them their paddle-power
  • Ears/Nose -they actually close when swimming, to keep water out
  • Eyes -have a an extra ‘clear’ eyelid (nictitating membrane) that act as underwater goggles
  • Mouth -they have a second set of inner lips that close behind their teeth to keep water out when they are chewing underwater
  • Tail -this giant rudder steers underwater, works as a seat for break time and can be slapped on the water to sound an alarm to beavers when danger is around

Beaver in PondThere is no animal on earth that can alter a landscape as effectively as the beaver (aside from humans).  They create wetlands which benefit and support other species, both plant and animal.   The beaver is very hard working and resourceful and they have even been known to use objects other then trees to built their lodges and dams, canoe paddles being a favorite.  They are very family oriented animals and live as husband and wife for life, when possible.  They also live with two litters of children at any given time, last years kits providing babysitting services to this years kits.  At two years old, in the early spring, the oldest kits are forced out of the home to make room for the next litter and have to venture off to claim their own body of water. A mother beaver can be fierce when protecting her young and there have been reports of swimming dogs being killed when they get too close. Otters are the only animal brave enough to enter the lodge to predate the young. Beavers are much larger than most people think (probably because we only ever see them in the distance) and can reach a weight of 36 kg (80 lbs), the average adult being about 19 kg (40 lbs).  They are active all year, although we don’t see them in winter because they are either in the lodge or swimming under the ice, where they have stored their food for the colder months.

We have 2 beavers (Millie and Woodrow) at our centre that came to us as very young kits after their parents were killed as nuisance animals, in Quebec.  Woodrow, our male, had to undergo emergency surgery to repair injuries from an early skull fracture that took place in the wild, which resulted in the removal of his incisor teeth.  We have to make his special diet into a coleslaw to help him eat a little easier.  Come and visit our centre and you may have a chance to meet Woodrow, up close and personal, at one of our ‘Meet the Creature’ sessions or once the ice melts, watch them in their beautiful enclosure in the forest.

News at the Centre

Sad news...

  • Viber, our American toad, passed away of old age.  We will miss our chirpy little friend.

Some great news...

  • The little wild red fox, we spoke about in our last newsletter, recovered successfully from it’s bout of mange and was brought back to us.  We released her on our property and have not seen her since.  We wish her luck.
  • Latte, our albino raccoon, had some emergency dental surgery to remove a severely abscessed tooth and has been a lot less grouchy since the operation.

  • Our centre was successful in having a hand-raised coyote surrendered for captive care. She has been sent to a wonderful facility in Quebec to live out her days with a very lonely single male coyote that was also deemed unreleasable because of being imprinted on people.
  • Our centre has become home to a beautiful gray wolf that was confiscated form a facility that was holding her illegally.  Despite being an older animal ,she has settled in very well to her new space.  She is not on public display right now as she is fairly new and we are still assessing her personality and health.
Akayla the Wolf
  • Our centre directors hosted a group of students from the Northern College Wildlife Rehabilitation program, for a course on mammal capture and restraint.
  • We have hosted a record number of photography sessions (both amateur and professional) over the last few months at our centre.  It provides great enrichment for our animals and great photos for the photographers (see sample of a photo taken of Kokanee, our cougar).
Kokanee the Cougar

What Do We Need?  We are glad you asked.

Our budget is always tight and our supporters and visitors have been asking how they can help.  If you would like to gift us something really useful, here is a list:

  •  Fax/printer/copier/scanner machine - ours in just not working properly anymore!!!
  • Printer paper and photo paper 8.5”x11”(for sponsorship packages)
  • Lamination sheets 8.5”x11” (for sponsorship certificates and trail signs)
  • Top clippings from leafy tree species (browse for our moose, beavers and porcupine)
  • Freezer meat (no seasoned, smoked or cooked - a little freezer burn is okay)
  • Heavy duty large garbage pails (we go through so many and always need more)
  • Toilet paper and paper towels
  • Bleach, Pine sol, Dish soap
  • · Canadian Tire Money eh!


The Muskoka Wildlife Centre is an interactive learning park dedicated to the long term care of un-releasable native Ontario wildlife. It's a place where people can gain an appreciation for some of the amazing creatures that share this beautiful province with us. Many of the resident animals are ex - pets, injured or abandoned wildlife. These hand-raised and well socialized creatures live out their lives, nestled comfortably in spacious naturalistic enclosures. With fifty acres of trails, a beautiful picnic area, a gift/snack shop and daily interactive programming, a visit to the Muskoka Wildlife Centre is an unique nature experience that should not be missed. The centre also offers the highly acclaimed outreach program "Speaking of Wildlife", which has been travelling across Ontario delivering educational and entertaining presentations to thousands of organized groups since 1989.

"Here at the Muskoka Wildlife Centre, we believe people protect only what they love and can only love what they understand."