Critter cares

Stand up for the little guys

The tagline of New Line Cinema’s “Hoot,” in which teens fight to protect an endangered owl population, proclaims: “It’s time to stand up for the little guys.” So, stand up already.

“Free Willy”
Tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains, a team of volunteers and four staff members rescue, rehabilitate and release injured and orphaned wildlife and marine mammals.

California Wildlife Center tended to 2,035 critters last year, with patients ranging from a newborn field mouse to a stranded adult sea lion, with hummingbirds, owls, pelicans and coyotes in between. Currently, the center is teeming with orphans: “It’s baby season right now,” says Victoria Harris, acting executive director.

CWC relies on more than 10,000 volunteer hours to care for injured animals, teach workshops, clean cages and answer phones. The annual family-friendly fundraiser, The Wild Brunch — La Fiesta de Amigos, is July 9 in Malibu. To help or attend, visit Californiawildlifecenter.org.

“Planet of the Apes”
L.A.-based Orangutan Foundation Intl. works to save the endangered Great Red Ape from extinction while preserving its rainforest habitat. The foundation’s clinic and sanctuary in Borneo cares for more than 250 orphaned orangutans and helps the animals transition back into the wild. Foster parentage costs $75; the center also offers eco-trips to Borneo, where volunteers work directly with the orangutans. For more information, visit Orangutan.org.

“The Horse Whisperer”
On 300 acres near Solvang, wild horse sanctuary Return to Freedom maintains the genetic diversity of America’s wild stallions by allowing them to live in their natural herd groups. The center currently maintains 10 separate groups totaling about 200 wild horses. The sanctuary welcomes all volunteers, with projects allocated according to age and skills. Some volunteers lend a hand for the day, while others live on site for up to two weeks. Visit Returntofreedom.org for more information.

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