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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?

Toronto Wildlife Centre receives over 600 volunteer applications each year and we are incredibly grateful for the interest and support from the community! Openings are limited so we unfortunately cannot accept every applicant. Depending on your role(s) of interest, availability, when you apply, and the volume of applications at this time, there may be a delay in our ability to get back to you. Screening applications, scheduling interviews and completing training does take time. We make every effort to get volunteers started as quickly as possible while also ensuring that everyone is appropriately screened and receive all the necessary training to volunteer in a wildlife rehabilitation centre. We thank you for your patience!

How often do you train and bring on new volunteers?

We continually review applications and reach out to volunteer applicants who have experience, availability and are interested in the roles with the greatest need at the time. Positions such as the Wildlife Nursery Assistant are seasonal with recruitment taking place over the winter and training scheduled in early spring. In the majority of our opportunities, new volunteers are brought on when space becomes available.

When do Volunteer Orientation Sessions take place?

Volunteer Information Sessions are by invitation only. Invitations will be sent out by email, when we have a session booked, to all candidates who have been successfully screened in.

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

Toronto Wildlife Centre does accept a select number of co-op and placement students for all semesters. All students will be asked to submit their application through our Better Impact volunteer portal (see VOLUNTEER APPLICATION tab) and it must clearly state your interest in a Placement position and include the timeline and the number of hours and/or schedule. Screened in candidates will then need to successfully complete an interview before being offered the role.

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS: All co-op students will begin their placement in our General Support department. In this role there will not be any contact with patients at the centre. Instead, the primary responsibilities include assisting with laundry, cage cleaning and maintaining the overall cleanliness of our facility. Based on performance, reliability and maturity demonstrated by students, the opportunity to move into our Wildlife Care department may be discussed at a later date.

If you have any questions, please contact our Volunteer Services department at [email protected]

How much time will I spend with the animals?

Each position is different with respect to the amount of hands-on interaction with animals. Wildlife Care volunteers will have the opportunity to work with the greatest diversity of animals with some hands-on exposure. Wildlife Nursery volunteers will be working much more closely with patients (syringe-feeding) but are limited primarily to squirrels and chipmunks. In all roles, we keep contact and interaction with animals to the absolute minimum for the following reasons:

1. Wild animals in captive care experience a great deal of stress. To help ensure their full recovery and maximize their comfort in care, we aim to limit their stress as much as possible – which includes minimizing human contact.
2. It is important that wild animals stay wild and retain their natural fear of humans. This is often crucial for their survival upon release. Learning that humans are a source of food and attention (especially by babies) can have devastating consequences if the animal trusts the wrong person!
It is very important for volunteers to understand that the animals at the centre are NOT pets and should never be petted, hugged, spoken to or receive any kind of human attention. Interactions with animals should only take place for 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 volunteer 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. If you are interested in a role that works directly with Rabies Vector Species, you will not be able to work with those species unless you are Rabies vaccinated and have an up to date Titre test.

For any roles on-site, you MUST have an up-to-date tetanus vaccination (within the last 10 years).

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

You must be at least 18 years of age to volunteer in most of Toronto Wildlife Centre’s volunteer positions, however, we have a few roles available for those at least 15 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 or rescue team for an 8 hour day. To be eligible to sign up for a veterinarian or rescue shadow day, volunteers must have completed 200 hours of volunteering. If you have completed this and would like to set up a date, please contact the volunteer coordination team. Please note that shadow days cannot take place during your scheduled volunteer shifts. Unfortunately, Veterinary or Rescue team shadowing is not available to members of the general public.

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 Coordination Team 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 Coordination Team 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.