We all know deep in our hearts that connecting with animals has a profound impact on our lives. However, there is real truth to the benefits that animals have on us. Research shows that interacting with animals is proven to lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones like cortisol. Further studies have shown that animals can boost our mood, increase feelings of social support and even reduce feelings of loneliness.
So, it’s no surprise that we seek out animal experiences. Across York Durham Headwaters you’ll find an array of endearing and worthwhile places where you can meet rescue animals. These wild and charming creatures will fill your proverbial cup. And at the same time, you can help these amazing animals too! Knowing your help and donations make an impact on these places and their residents will warm your heart that much more.
In the small town of Beaverton, on the eastern shores of Lake Simcoe, is Ganawendan Wildlife Sanctuary. This wildlife rescue is all about educating the public on how you can help Ontario’s wildlife through a variety of programs.
It all started with an injured mallard duck. After discovering that wildlife rescue facilities were limited in Ontario Kim set about taking wildlife rehab training and learning all she could to create her own place to help. And so Ganawendan Wildlife Sanctuary was born!
The name “Ganawendan” stems from the Ojibwe term that means protect. It pays homage to her son’s Native roots as well as being a true representation of what she does at the Sanctuary.
The facility is home to a wide assortment of animals, which include turtles, bunnies, alpacas, a pig, and so much more! Plus, the property is home to a 1926 schoolhouse that provides a scenic backdrop for photos.
This summer, starting in July, Ganawendan Wildlife Sanctuary will have a range of fun and thought-provoking activities available. The list includes wildlife lectures, with a focus on turtles. Guests will learn about these fascinating creatures as well as meet them up close.
Another wonderful experience at Ganawenden is Forest Therapy! Enjoy self-guided tours on their cedar forest trail that winds along a tranquil river. It’s the perfect way to reconnect with nature this summer! Alternatively, if you prefer a guided tour, they are offering Guided Forest Therapy during the first weekend in July! During this guided tour you’ll learn tips and techniques to reduce stress and connect with your inner peace.
Wander the sanctuary and meet their delightful animals. Visit Bunny Land, a favourite with young ones. And check out the Turtle Pond to see them basking and enjoying life.
Families with young kids should sign up for their Kids Craft Day that takes place August 12. Children will enjoy a fun craft session while learning about turtles.
Visitors are encouraged to book in advance. You’ll walk away full of memories, new knowledge and a sense of peace knowing that 100% of admissions go directly back to the animals. www.ganawendanwildlifesanctuary.ca
Add a visit to Durham Region’s only wildlife rehabilitation hospital and outdoor educational centre this summer! Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue is set along 15 acres of Oak Ridges Moraine and is licensed and dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing sick, injured or abandoned wildlife.
The woman behind the rescue centre, Stefanie, has over 20 years of experience. After graduating from the University of Guelph with a major in zoology she went on to become one of three internationally certified wildlife rehabilitators in Ontario. Along with her strong and passionate team, they are caring for hundreds of patients.
Guests are welcomed to visit the centre by participating in one of the many programs they offer. With all the proceeds going directly back into the centre and care of its wildlife.
If you’re looking for fun things for your kids to do during their school break then consider enrolling them in Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue’s Summer Camps. They offer full week programs where children will learn about nature and wildlife in their own backyard. This outdoor educational experience is full of age-specific interactive activities that change every day.
Families and adults alike can also book a private Wildlife Experience. During your tour of the facility, you’ll learn about how they rehabilitate local wildlife as well as find out what happens when an animal cannot be re-released back into the wild. While you won’t have any interaction with the animals going through rehabilitation, visitors will get to meet and engage with their animal ambassadors. These permanent residents include a family of foxes, porcupines, a skunk, and more!
Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue is also home to one of the coolest glamping experiences in Ontario! Visitors can stay in their Soper Creek Wilderness Villas. Set in an idyllic setting, there are yurt-style bell tents and modern geodomes. Each is solar powered and has fun names that pay homage to the wildlife they care for like Fox Den and Porcupine Palace. When you book your stay, you’ll receive a complimentary Wildlife Experience tour.
The villas sleep two to seven people and offer a unique stay that gives back! So, whether you’re looking for an educational summer day trip or a truly memorable experience, Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue is the place for you! www.sopercreekwildlife.com
With a diverse background that included pastry chef and wildlife rehabber, Kirsten Duggan has always had a passion for animals. Her family nurtured her love for animals from an early age and instilled a commitment to her pets from day one. It’s that love and dedication that has helped her develop Sweet Acres Pig Sanctuary.
Sweet Acres Pig Sanctuary is a non-for-profit safe haven for surrendered pot belly pigs. Home to nearly a dozen pigs, the rescue is located in Whitchurch-Stouffville, 15 mins east of Newmarket. Covering 1.5 acres, the now lovingly cared for pigs have room to roam and the opportunity to be the social creatures they are with fellow swine.
Kirsten’s mission at Sweet Acres is to educate and promote kindness through compassionate care and understanding of potbelly pigs. Sadly, many looking for a ‘miniature’ pot belly pig are not prepared for the true size these animals can reach, which is often well over 100 pounds.
Animal lovers can visit Sweet Acres Pig Sanctuary and learn more about these adorable creatures. Book ahead and you can meet the colourful characters that call the sanctuary home, like Cardi P, Delilah, Dozer, and Spartacus. Visitors can feed the pigs some healthy treats and get their photo taken with them. There are also two therapy pigs for those who need to unwind.
The Sanctuary is a great place for all to visit! It’s wheelchair accessible and has a playground for the kids. Plus, it’s available to host birthday parties or family reunions. Along with relying on donations from the public through visits and such, they also run a sponsorship program. Families can choose a pig to sponsor and for a monthly donation, and will receive photos and updates on the pig. www.sweetacrespigsanctuary.com
Whether you’re looking for fun and educational things to do with the kids or a rewarding experience, plan a day trip to one of these awesome animal rescues in York Durham Headwaters! Each will fill you with joy and enriching memories. Plus, your heart will be full knowing you’ve helped these wonderful creatures too!