Wildlife Images making changes to facility after reopening

GRANTS PASS, Ore.- Wildlife Images Rehabilitation and Education Center (WIREC) is making some changes to its facility after reopening.

On April 22, NBC5 reported WIREC reopened its doors to the public after four months of being closed. According to WIREC’s Executive Director Dave Siddon, his father started WIREC around 42 years ago and it’s seen a lot of changes since then. Siddon says he’s thrilled to see the most recent changes that began during the center’s closure. He says they knew they had to improve the habitats for the animals.

“We knew we needed to… raise the bar for the animal enclosures,” Siddon said, “We took on the wolf habitat, we’re going to build another Golden Eagle habitat, building a squeeze cage for the bear, we’re doing all these really amazing improvements in the park.”

But Siddon says improving the habitats is only one step in a bigger plan. He says WIREC is reinventing its educational programs.

“We’re going to have Camp E going stronger than ever,” Siddon said, “we’re going to have all kinds of involvement from the educational aspects, so we’re really going to start pushing education a lot harder than we ever have.”

Siddon also says they’re making changes to the volunteer program. He says, in the past, volunteers didn’t really get to engage with the animals, but not anymore.

“We’ve changed that now, so all the volunteers, not only will they come in and do diets and things,” Siddon said, “they’ll all have an opportunity to interact with the animals and get involved directly with wildlife. That’s what they’re here for, that’s what their love is all about, and we want to encourage that.”

Siddon says they’re also looking into changing their Discovery Farm into something new, as he says it wasn’t very popular or profitable in the past. He says the new staff members have already made a huge difference in park culture as well.

“They’re amazing,” Siddon said, “I cannot remember ever working with a crew that’s this good as we have right now at Wildlife Images.”

WIREC Animal Services Manager, Kara Deshazo, says even though losing as many staff members as they did was difficult, it presented them with the opportunity to bring in some really amazing people.

“One amazing thing that I got to do coming into this facility was, kind of, get to build my own team,” Deshazo said. “Because there was so many individuals that left, I got to bring in so many wonderful individuals that I’ve got to meet along my career.”

Mark Wareing, Director of Operations at WIREC, says adding new staff members was one of the best decisions they could’ve made.

“I looked at some of the reviews from the past and, kind of, generated that some of the overall concerns that we’re seeing there was, just, interactions between the staff and the public,” Wareing said. “Since this is supposed to be an open campus filled with educational opportunities, I wanted to make sure that the community coming in had, just, an amazing experience every time that they were here.”

Siddon says ever since they made changes to the park, the animals haven’t been happier.

“The animals have really reacted positively towards all these changes,” Siddon said, “I mean, the animals approach us more, they seem to be more engaging.”

But they all say they’re not done making improvements anytime soon. Wareing says they’re looking to add new ways for the public to engage in the park, including building a fire pit and the possibility of a wine night, along with other ideas.

“One of the things that we’ve all agreed on is we want to have more community involvement out here and that means trying to get people out and into the park, and creating programs in here that are drawing the community in,” Wareing said.

Above all else, Wareing says they just want to make this park sustainable, so they can continue providing for these animals.

“Wildlife Images is run purely on donations or our ability to write grants,” Wareing said, “so, we have to continue to do that to be able to keep the doors open, to fulfill our mission. Our primary mission has always been to save wildlife.”

Wildlife Images is open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They’re still looking for volunteers, so anyone interested, can head to their website.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
Skip to content