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Volunteer FAQ

I want to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre

How long after I send in my application do I begin volunteering?

This all depends on what area you are interested in and when the application is received to what part of the screening process the volunteer program is in. There are two steps to our screening process that needs to be completed before a volunteer is accepted. From there the volunteer must attend an orientation and training session before they may start their time here.

How often do you train and bring on new volunteers?

New volunteers are brought on when space becomes available.

When do Volunteer Orientation Sessions take place?

Volunteer Orientations are by invitation only.

Do you accept high school, university and veterinary co-op students?

Toronto Wildlife Centre is not accepting co-op students at this time. We are working on revamping our co-op program and hope to launch in the near future. Check back for updates or contact our volunteer coordinator at [email protected].

How much time will I spend with the animals?

Each position is very different with respect to the amount of hands-on interaction with animals. Wildlife Care Volunteers have the most amount of time with the patients, followed by Foster Care Volunteers and Nursery Volunteers. It is, however, important to note that interactions with wild animals are kept to an absolute minimum.

This is for two reasons:

  1. Firstly, wild animals in captivity experience a great deal of stress. It is critical to minimize the stress wild animals experience in captivity by minimizing human contact. This helps ensure their full recovery and to maximize their comfort as they recover.
  2. Secondly, it is important that wild animals stay wild, and retain their natural fear of humans. A fear of humans is often critical to the survival of wild animals – learning that humans are a source of food or affection can have devastating consequences for wild animals that trust the wrong human! This is especially the case for baby wild animals.

It’s very important that volunteers and potential volunteers understand that the wild animals at the centre should never be petted, hugged, talked to, held or receive any kind of human attention. Any interactions with the animals are only done for their daily care procedures or for medical purposes.

Do I need previous experience working with animals to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre?

Previous experience and wildlife training is not necessary to volunteering at Toronto Wildlife Centre. All volunteers working with wildlife will experience substantial on-the-job training by knowledgeable staff members and experienced volunteers.

Do I need to be rabies vaccinated to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre?

You do not need to be vaccinated against rabies to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre. As a volunteer you will not have the opportunity to work with rabies-vector species until you have completed at least 6-12 months of training. At that time, if you would like to work with rabies-vector species, you may choose to obtain a rabies vaccination.

Do I need to be a certain age to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre?

People must be 18 years of age to volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre. High School Co-op students must be 16 years of age.

I already volunteer at Toronto Wildlife Centre

I need a reference letter. Can Toronto Wildlife Centre provide me with one?

Yes, if you’ve completed the minimum volunteer time commitment. However, we can’t guarantee reference letters for volunteers who have stopped volunteering more than 1 year prior to the request.

If you anticipate requiring a reference letter, we recommend that you ask for a reference letter at the time of your departure in case your supervisor is not available to write you a personal reference in the future.

Can I shadow a veterinarian for a day?

Yes. Volunteers have the opportunity to shadow our veterinary staff for a 4-hour shift. To be eligible to sign up for a veterinarian shadow day, volunteers must have completed 1 year of volunteering. If you have completed a year of volunteering and would like to set up a date, please contact the Volunteer Program by email or 416-631-0662 x3211. Please note that vet shadow days cannot take place during your scheduled volunteer shifts.

Can I change volunteer positions?

If you have completed your minimum time commitment in one volunteer position and would like to try something new, please contact the Volunteer Program by email or 416-631-0662 x3211.

How do I change my scheduled hours?

If you need to change your weekly scheduled time please contact the Volunteer Program by email or 416-631-0662 x3211.

How do I cancel a shift?

Please decline your shift using the Better Impact volunteer management system. If you are a Wildlife Care or Wildlife Nursery volunteer and are unable to cancel your shift through Better Impact, please call the volunteer absence line at 416-631-0662 x3227 and leave a detailed message with your name, shift day and time.