Listen to our radio show Monday on KNSJ 89. 1 FM at 5 p.m. to hear our audio report on Project Wildlife’s event.
By Miriam Raftery
September 21, 2014 (Lakeside) – At Project Wildlife’s “We Like It Wild” event in Lakeside last week, guests had up close and personal encounters with exotic and local wildlife at the Pillsbury Ranch owned by Joan Embery, the San Diego Zoo’s ambassador. They also heard a special announcement from the Project Wildlife’s executive director Beth Ugoretz, who said Project Wildlife plans to merge by November 1st with the San Diego Humane Society.
Gary Weitzman, president of the San Diego Human Society and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, emphasized that goal is to keep Project Wildlife “strong” and leverage the strengths of both organizations. Project Wildlife’s focus on rescuing and rehabilitating local wildlife will continue, and the need is great, since the drought, wildfires and development have put increasing stress on local animals from birds and reptiles to larger animals such as raccoons and coyotes.
Ugoretz told some emotional stories of rescues, including a baby raccoon rescued by a Project Wildlife volunteer after a motorist ran over the mother raccoon, then intentionally ran over the babies. One of the babies, Rudy, survived and has been reintroduced into the wild, thanks to Project Wildlife.
At the event, guests mixed and mingled with wildlife, getting up close and personal looks at an Andean condor, a kangaroo, porcupine, sloth, armadillo, snakes, lizards, pot-bellied pig, fox, exotic birds, zebras and more. They also had an opportunity to see local wildlife, from rescued opossums to owls.
In addition, guests bid on silent and live auction prizes.
Joan Embery took stage last, stealing the show with a parade of wildlife and assistants who walked the animals through the crowd, giving donors new appreciation for the wonders of nature.
Embery said San Diego is the most biodiverse county in America – and we’re also home to more endangered species than any other U.S. county. She spoke about the impact the drought is having locally, the importance of the San Diego River as a wildlife corridor, and the wildlife she enjoys seeing at her own ranch.
She praised the efforts of Project Wildlife, and urged everyone to do their part to project our local wildlife. Noting that San Diegans come here because of our outdoor environment, she added, “We don’t want to lose what we love about San Diego, and that is nature.”