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Great Grey Owl perched inside a sheltered wooden nook with a natural, rough wooden exterior, observing the surroundings with piercing yellow eyes

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

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Activity:
Attraction
Difficulty:
Easy
Location:
Parksville
Time:
1hr
Distance:
.5km

Activity:

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Accessibility:

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All ages elderly Icon
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Highlights Include:

Info Map

5 surprising things when visiting the Wildlife Recovery Centre

Where to this weekend, Vancouver Island: North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

Here’s a chance to experience wildlife up close, and it’s not a zoo. This visitor-friendly site is dedicated to the recovery and care of ill, injured, and orphaned wildlife.

Open Daily 9:00am – 4:30pm

Great Grey Owl perched inside a sheltered wooden nook with a natural, rough wooden exterior, observing the surroundings with piercing yellow eyes

Don't Get Lost — Stay Safe

Visitors inside a wooden beam structured indoor display at the Wildlife Recovery Association, admiring a variety of taxidermy and live-sized animal models in a forest-like setting.

Over spring break, we decided to take a journey from Sooke to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, conveniently located just five minutes from Parksville on Central Vancouver Island.

While Parksville is renowned for its scenic beaches and waterfalls, our recent discovery, the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, has quickly become a top attraction on our list. With over 1,200 Google reviews boasting an average rating of 4.8, it’s clear why.

The centre excels in caring for ill, injured, and orphaned wildlife and offers animal lovers a unique opportunity to experience wildlife up close.

Most animals displayed at the centre are there because they require care, and some cannot be released back into the wild. 

The Wildlife Centre ensures their well-being while educating and engaging the public. The proceeds from visitors contribute significantly to the continuation of their vital work.

Tips and Suggestions

The Wildlife Centre is great for all ages, abilities and interests. It’s a top attraction on Vancouver Island.

Large parking area, but it can get busy, especially on weekends.

Do not bring pets, as they are not allowed on the premises.

There is no food onsite.

Fully wheelchair accessible.

Washrooms on site.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are dogs allowed?
Pets are not allowed in the Recovery Centre.

Is this just for small kids?
It is a whole family experience; there is so much to see and do for all ages. Everyone will enjoy this vacation stop.

Is there food there?
No, but it’s not far from Parksville or Coombs. There are picnic tables to sit at if you bring your own snack.

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The top 5 things that surprised us visiting the Wildlife Recovery Centre

Here are the top five aspects that stood out during our visit to the Wildlife Recovery Centre:

  1. Visitor-Friendly Features: The center is well-equipped for visitors, with thoughtful indoor and outdoor displays and viewing areas, as well as fun and well-designed pens and sections that enhance the experience.
  2. A lot to see on 8 acres: While the center is not overly large, it exceeded our expectations. Instead of just a few cages, the space is well-organized and separated into fun areas that include unique rock formations, Ponds, a forest trail and a First Nations Discover Interpretive area.
  3. Diversity of Birds and Raptors: The variety of birds at the center was remarkable, showcasing species from different habitats and regions, which was a delightful surprise. The bald eagle and falcons are visitor favourites,
  4. Accessibility: The center is conveniently located, and fully accessible, making it a hassle-free addition to anyone travelling in the Parksville area.
  5. Wildlife first: This is a highly-rated tourist attraction, but it is apparent that the welfare of the animals is of utmost importance.

 

A majestic Bald Eagle sitting on a perch in an aviary, with striking white and brown plumage and a sharp yellow beak, behind a metal fence.

"This place is fantastic if you have an hour or two to kill. All the animals are rescue animals and as such it doesn't have that zoo feel. It has very nice vibes, very relaxed and friendly. It's also not expensive. Highly recommended for kids and adults alike."

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Don't Get Lost — Stay Safe

What to Expect When Visiting

Parking – Parking is free

Accessibility – Gravel paths are wheelchair accessible, along with reserved parking stalls and accessible washrooms. Free wheelchairs are available for use.

Self-guided Tour

Museum of Nature – Log building with an array of animal species
Black Bear – Visiting Rae, the resident non-releasable black bear, is a must. She was found alongside the highway but requires lifelong ongoing care and has become a top animal ambassador in the education program.
Non-releasable Birds – owls, eagles, hawks and other local species
Hidden Garden – a summer garden that’s hidden
Picnic Area
– with climbing rocks, a cave and stone carvings
Turtle Town – A large release pond with turtles
Nature Trail – A whimsical trail through a forested area
First Nations Discovery Area – The new home of the Ravenshong Canoe
Gift Shop 

A serene path at a wildlife recovery center with wooden benches and a weathered fence, leading to enclosures surrounded by lush greenery.

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History of the Centre

The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, housed on eight acres of pristine land in Errington, BC, was established in 1985 by Sylvia and Robin Campbell. The seed for this non-profit wildlife rehabilitation facility was planted following a poignant experience when Robin discovered an injured Great Horned Owl. 

Moved by this encounter, the Campbells dedicated themselves to the care and recovery of injured and orphaned wildlife. Starting modestly, the centre has grown significantly over the years and now boasts a dedicated team of seven employees and over 80 volunteers.

These committed individuals help run a world-class facility that not only provides sanctuary and rehabilitation for a variety of wildlife species but also focuses on educating the public about environmental issues. This growth showcases the Campbells’ enduring legacy and the community’s strong support for wildlife conservation.

NIWRA accepts support of all kinds, but they also have a program where you can adopt an animal or give a gift for a symbolic adoption.

A Barn Owl perched on a wooden ledge inside a rustic shelter, with a serene expression and soft plumage, inside the Wildlife Recovery Association.

Mission and Objectives

The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRA), located in Errington, BC, has a dual mission focused on the care of ill, injured, and orphaned wildlife and the education of the public on wildlife and environmental issues. Founded in 1985, NIWRA non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing a sanctuary for wildlife rehabilitation, aiming to reintroduce as many animals back to their natural habitats as possible. 

The facility is well-equipped with a state-of-the-art veterinary clinic and offers comprehensive wildlife care practices, which include expert veterinary care, customized diets, and specialized handling equipment. 

This enables the center to rehabilitate a range of animals, from birds and black bears to raptors and other species native to Vancouver Island.

NIWRA also places a strong emphasis on public education through its interactive learning center, and various educational programs that invite visitors to learn about local wildlife and conservation efforts. This combination of rehabilitation and educational outreach highlights NIWRA’s comprehensive approach to wildlife conservation and public awareness. 

 

A landscape featuring a large, carved stone face among rocky boulders, with a path leading to wooden structures in a wildlife recovery centre.

In the Area

Here are some recommendations we’ve enjoyed when planning for the perfect family day in the Parksville area.

Waterfall Viewing – Englishman River Falls
Goats on the Roof – A quirky stop in Coombs
Rathtrevor Beach – Catch it at low tide

Photo Gallery:

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FAQ:

Are dogs allowed?
Pets are not allowed in the Recovery Centre.

Is this just for small kids?
It is a whole family experience; there is so much to see and do for all ages. Everyone will enjoy this vacation stop.

Is there food there?
No, but it’s not far from Parksville or Coombs. There are picnic tables to sit at if you bring your own snack.

Experience The Area
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Original Author:

Modified: April 17, 2024
Last Visit: March 28, 2024

Thank you for visiting – I hope you found the information you were looking for at VIBL (Vancouver Island Bucket List) please continue to discover all of the great places that makes Vancouver Island so great! 

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We love Vancouver Island and want to keep the natural beauty. Please respect the places you visit and pack out what you pack in and leave the area better than when you arrived. We all know how much trash can spoil an experience and the environment, so please help us keep it clean!

Wildlife:
Vancouver Island is a land of natural beauty and abundant wildlife. Please be aware of your surroundings and take the usual precautions for personal and wildlife safety.
Black bears, cougars and even wolves are common on Vancouver Island for more on Wildlife Safety Click Here 

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Changing seasons and tides can have a drastic effect on most locations on Vancouver Island. Please be cautious as the information in this post may vary depending on the time of year and weather. Make sure to check for current weather and tide information before you make your journey! Click here for the tides in your area. 

Be aware of ocean currents before swimming, paddle boarding or kayaking.

Land Acknowledgement:
We would like to acknowledge the land we appreciate daily within the 50 First Nations that make up the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu chah nulth, and Kwakiutl–the first peoples of Vancouver Island .

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