Executive Director Ariana Katovich, Board President Roland Bryan, and Board VP Gretchen Lieff | Credit: Gail Arnold

On October 15, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (WCN) held a delightful tropical-themed Wild Night Out on the grounds of Chase Palm Park’s Carousel House. The event netted $105,000 for the nonprofit’s invaluable work rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing wildlife. Last year, WCN served more than 4,700 wildlife patients.

The 200 guests enjoyed mingling at the idyllic, spacious oceanfront venue on a warm Santa Barbara evening. Guests could choose from multiple bars and food stations at their leisure and got to enjoy a fun dance performance by Hulu Anyone. A speech by Executive Director Ariana Katovich and a video updated guests on WCN’s work and its soon-to-open hospital. Renowned photographer, author, and producer Ian Shive shared how honored he is to be a boardmember and discussed the importance of WCN’s work. Fox NFL Sunday host Curt Menefee led the auction with both warmth and professionalism.

There is much excitement for the new hospital set to open by the end of the year. Dedicated staff have persevered for decades with very limited facilities. The current operation on North Fairview in Goleta consists of one 500-square-foot building, sheds, and trailers.  Each year, 2,000 songbirds are cared for in a single trailer, which also houses its surgical site. The ICU is in a shed.

The 5,400-square-foot state-of-the-art hospital with advanced medical equipment and surgery, radiology, and ICU spaces will enable better patient outcomes and less stress on wildlife and staff. 

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The facility will allow WCN to rehabilitate oiled birds onsite, instead of the current practice of stabilizing the birds and then having them undergo a stressful journey to a specialized facility in L.A. for rehabilitation. The natural oil seeps off our coast makes oiled birds a year-round occurrence, and each week, volunteers make the trip to L.A. Of course, there are also the dreaded oil spills that inevitably will come.

The $6 million campaign also funds new enclosures and upgraded pools and enables WCN to hire its first wildlife veterinarian.  In addition to saving wildlife, Dr. Avery Berkowitz, who was hired last year, will also train staff, interns, and volunteers. Prior to Berkowitz’s arrival, animals were transported offsite for tests, surgeries, and other procedures, which delayed care and added to the stress on the animals.

WCN cares for more than 200 species. About three-quarters of patients are birds, with songbirds comprising more than half of these. The remaining wildlife consists mainly of small mammals, including raccoons, striped skunks, and brush rabbits. About 60 percent of rescues are from south S.B. County, nearly a quarter from Ventura County, and the rest from surrounding areas. Their Helpline at (805) 681-1080 fields more than 7,000 calls annually.

WCN has about 300 active volunteers and always welcomes new ones to answer the Helpline, prepare food, clean, plan events, and more. While the capital campaign goal has been reached, WCN needs funds for daily operations, which can now expand thanks to the new facilities and resources. It relies on individuals and foundations for nearly all of its income.

For more info about WCN, or to volunteer or make a donation, go to http://sbwcn.org.

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Director of Operations Julia Parker and volunteer Scott Jordan | Credit: Gail Arnold
Boardmembers Mindy Denson and Becky Gaal | Credit: Gail Arnold
Boardmember Connie Pearcy and Medical Director Dr. Avery Berkowitz | Credit: Gail Arnold
Volunteer Coordinator Liora Bregman, Development Coordinator Sabrina Skelly, and Communications Manager Lauren Gonzales | Credit: Gail Arnold


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