There were some highly trained individuals at the London Convention Centre Saturday night (Nov. 12) and they weren’t necessarily the ones testing their trivia skills.
Approximately 150 people turned out for the Salthaven Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Centre as the organization held its second annual Trivia Night. However, it was some of the animals the facility works to rescue that drew the most attention. The event was a fundraiser for the capital expansion plans of the centre, which has been operating in Mount Brydges since 1994.
The trivia night involved individuals and teams testing their trivia knowledge against other teams while also taking part in silent auctions and raffles.
Francee Ender, who through her own marketing firm is director of development and marketing for Salthaven, said the evening is about not only raising money, but also having a good time.
“Tonight is going to be a fun night. There are other trivia nights, but it is an evening with fun, “hawk”tails. There will be trivia teams and the highest score gets some nice prizes at the end of the night,” Ender said. “It is a big mix of trivia, a lot for everyone to have fun with.”
Before the event got underway, Chaukar, a male lagger falcon, and Joe, a barn owl, will put on display, mingling with their handlers and the interested audience.
These two birds are educational animals, trained to interact with an audience. However, Salthaven’s true goal is getting animals back into their natural habitats if at all possible.
Brian Salt, founder and director of Salthaven, said the facility admitted 860 wild animals and birds last year; a number that he expects would be reached again this year.
Salt was quick to point to the facility’s success in achieving its goal of reintegrating animals back into their natural habitat. “We have about a 65 per cent release rate; so over 500 of those animals get back into their natural environment,” Salt said. “It is a good bet for them. We try hard. It isn’t the number of animals; it is what you do with them.”
The fundraiser was also something Salt got excited about as it helps the organization towards its goal of building a brand new facility in the near future. Salt said developer Shmuel Farhi (owner of Farhi Holdings Corporation) has offered 216 acres of property just north of the city. However, it is an offer predicated upon Salthaven’s ability to build the new facility.
“It’s a very generous offer; we are quite excited by the possibilities. We need the public’s support to do that,” Salt said. “It will be a $2.5 million facility when all is said and done. The first phase is $250,000 and we are about 30 per cent there now. It is a soft economy for sure, so we think we are doing OK. We are ready to go, it all comes down to the money.”
The five-year project, Salt said, will be undertaken in a series of phases. The first two are expected to take two years each with the third being an ongoing effort. “The third phase will be ongoing, after all the buildings are build and the flight pens are built, we will be turning the land into an eco-park where family can go to see wildlife at its best.”