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PAWS animal rescue to be in big new Snohomish center

Sam Cooley photo

Two people walk toward the raptor birds enclosure at PAWS’ future Snohomish wildlife rehabilitation campus during a media tour Friday, June 23. The site is an active construction zone and some areas of the large campus are currently being built.

CATHCART — The nonprofit PAWS is expanding its Wildlife Hospital at a new location off of state Route 9 that is six times bigger to better serve wild animals in need.
They have been preparing for this for 20 years, Jennifer Convy, Senior Director of Wildlife, said.
The new Snohomish Wildlife Center is located along state Route 9 just south of Lowell-Larimer Road. PAWS is nearing completion of the Wildlife Hospital and outdoor recovery habitats. The Outdoor Aquatics Complex and Wildlife Care Unit are the final two buildings needed for the new campus.
The nonprofit anticipates the wildlife center will be open spring 2024.
PAWS specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating dogs and cats, placing them for adoption, as well as returning wild animals to their natural habitats and promoting animal welfare via humane education.
When the center opens, individuals can bring in wounded animals that they have found into the lobby to get the animal helped.
The new location can hold up to 2,500 animals.
When they cared for three bear cubs that were burned in a 2021 wildfire, "it maximized our space in the facility. One of the bears had to lay on the X-ray table to fit.” Andi Anderson, PAWS Director of Philanthropy and Events, said.
PAWS is expanding from a 3.5-acre facility in Lynnwood to a 25-acre Wildlife Center in Snohomish. They were able to build new kinds of enclosures based on recent innovations in the field of wildlife rehabilitation. The new space has the ability to care for up to 30 bears compared to six bears at the current site. The sea bird and bobcat spaces are being doubled in size for the ability to help more.
“The new wildlife center design was created after PAWS staff visited and collected ideas from wildlife rehabilitation centers, zoos, sanctuaries and veterinary hospitals across the country. PAWS also closely worked with our architects to refine the ideas into facilities optimized for our specialized work." Convy said.
The isolation rooms allow the animal to relax, calm down and take in the new surroundings. The exam rooms will have a wet table treatment method. The wet tables have hot, cold and warm temperature water hoses to help treat wounds.
Falcons and other birds can practice continuous flight on a circular flight track in the huge raptor rehabilitation habitat. The gates in the habitat can open to allow for fast flight birds to work on physical therapy. The habitats are made with untreated wood to last years and to be pet friendly. Holding the wood planks in place are steel boards that can be opened to replace the wood when needed. Curtains are used to slow the birds down when needed to relocate. In the larger raptor flight pen, the wildlife staff uses the curtains to section off the flight pen into segments to slow the more agile birds down as they fly very fast through this continuous flight loop. The curtain system allows staff to safely catch fast flight birds like falcons into a smaller section of the flight pen.
One full pasture is dedicated for large outdoor spaces that will be accessible to bigger animals such as bears and bobcats. The area is divided into 1/3-acre spaces for the bear starter dens. Their rehabilitation experience and preparation for release back into the wild will be significantly improved by these areas, which more closely resemble natural environments.
“Baby bears can stay for over a year based on age and treatment needs. It is rare to get adult bears for rehabilitation.” Anderson said.
The Care Unit is a building inside the hospital that houses significant indoor rehabilitation areas including a baby bird nursery, indoor aquatic areas, a disaster response bathroom and special care wards for delicate and vulnerable patients. The Aquatics Complex will have several above-ground pools, three in-ground pools, and a sophisticated central water filtration and circulation system.
PAWS fundraised $45 million to make the wildlife center happen. A large amount of that was private donors. King County gave a $1 million grant, the state gave $2.5 million and the nonprofit is working with Snohomish County on receiving a $1 million grant, PAWS’ spokesperson Mick Szydlowski said.
PAWS is grateful for government funds and donors who helped make the Snohomish wildlife center a reality.
Donors who make a gift of $10,000 or more will be recognized on the campaign Donor Wall to be erected in the new facility. All donors will be included on the list of campaign donors and recognized unless the donor requests anonymity. Donations can be made by visiting the PAWS website donation page



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