A chameleon is among the hundreds of creatures in the care of the Urban Safari Rescue Society. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey exotic-animal rescue society at ‘critical point’

Officials with Urban Safari Rescue Society say dwindling funds will run out mid-August

Pandemic-related restrictions are slowly lifting in B.C., but officials with a South Surrey rescue society that has some 350 animals in its care say the organization’s survival remains at risk.

“We’re getting to a critical point now,” Sharon Doucette, executive director Urban Safari Rescue Society, said Friday (June 12).

“We haven’t had… the same levels of revenues for months now. We’ve adapted in so many ways but we still need help.”

Located at 1395 176 St., the society has historically relied on funds raised through conducting presentations to schools, daycares and seniors homes, as well as at festivals and other events, to generate the revenue needed to house, feed and care for the animals it shelters.

In response to COVID-19 – which forced the layoff of five staff – in an effort to fill some of the gap left by being unable to offer those presentations, they began offering interactive online sessions in April, asking those who sign up to donate in return.

READ MORE: Urban Safari Rescue Society starts online video presentations

The one-hour sessions showcased a range of the animals in their care, from arachnids to reptiles to small mammals – including some of the more exotic, fragile creatures that are never taken to schools or festivals.

Treasurer Kathy Lucier said such efforts, along with fresh-food donations from grocery stores that had to clear stock, helped “in the beginning.”

“But that’s all dwindled.”

The society needs between $13,000 and $14,000 per month to operate, Lucier said. Even with the government’s wage-subsidy program and temporary relief from BC Hydro, they’re still short $7,000 to $8,000 of that.

If nothing changes, she estimates the society has enough to keep operating until around mid-August. After that, “we don’t want to have to make those decisions, but we have to face reality here.”

The facility reopened its doors to the public this week. For more information or to donate, call 604-531-1100 or email info@urbansafari.ca


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