Honoring First Responders

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Thank you to our First Responders!

On Wednesday, February 21, 2018, we held a Dedication Ceremony at our facility, honoring numerous Los Angeles area Fire Departments, as well as the Los Angeles Sheriff Department, for their heroic efforts that helped to save our animals and protect the sanctuary during the Creek Fire last December.  Our new lion cub enclosure and one of our bear enclosures were dedicated to the fire and police crews for their extraordinary ground and air support.  The Creek Fire started less than one-quarter mile south of Wildlife Waystation in the early morning hours of December 5th. All the delicate, small and medium animals, were evacuated. The majority of the large animals -- lions, bears, tigers, hoof stock and 40 chimpanzees sheltered in place.

 

"The fire blazed 360 degrees around Wildlife Waystation's property burning a significant amount of land," said Colette. "We had multiple water drops from helicopters directly on the property." It took fire crews several days to save the center of the property, which includes the main enclosures, hospital and kitchen. The office was spared as crews held ground against flames just a few feet from our office doors. Dozens of fire engines, with hundreds of fire fighters from all around California worked to save the facility. We've experienced fires near the property in the past, but we had never seen anything like the Creek Fire, which burned a large portion of our property," said Martine Colette, Founder, Wildlife Waystation. "Many of our animals would have perished tragically had it not been for the fast and constant support of the fire fighters, with the backup of the sheriffs, during the fire."


We were also so honored to host representatives from the offices of Congressman Adam Schiff, California State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino and City Supervisor Kathryn Barger. Each of these agencies also presented the Fire and Sheriff Departments with certificates for their heroic actions.

A personal note to our First Responders from Rebecca Richard, DVM, Wildlife Waystation

"So I am generally not very brave. The night of December 5th, I was really scared. Scared of the raging flames surrounding us, scared that the animals left here – each of whom holds a piece of my heart - wouldn’t make it, scared that the homes of those animals we had gotten to safety would burn, scared even for myself when the road out was eaten alive with fire.

But none of you were scared. Your professionalism and your passion for protecting the animals here and those of us trying to keep them safe leant me courage and made me able to do my job for them. Seeing the engines like walls of steel around the chimpanzee buildings and coming down the compound road and seeing all of you squaring off against that ravening beast gave me the courage to protect our beasts here. Lines of hot shots in orange, engines in red and green and yellow, hoses everywhere. Keeping the fire away from our animals.

We are here to protect them, you know. They are here for safety, for protection from illegal pet trade, medical research, unhealthy homes. They are here to retire in comfort, to be representative of their precious species, to educate about conservation and protection and also valued as intrinsic individuals. You all seemed to understand that – that keeping them safe meant something greater than just keeping the buildings from burning down. That maybe it meant making the world just a little richer, just a little kinder, just a little more magic. Animals are magic… but some, like tigers, are extra-special magic. You seemed to know that and were willing to put yourselves between us and the wall of fire to show it.

Everyone says firefighters are like superheroes – saving people from burning buildings and every now and then rescuing a kitten from a tree for good measure. But in this case you rescued lions and tigers and chimpanzees and one frightened zebra… and all of us.

I thank you. My family – my four children – thank you. My friends and all the friends of the Waystation and our extended family of keepers and staff here thank you. And most importantly, the animals here thank you. You saved their home, their place of peace and sanctuary. We – and they - would not be here without your efforts that long week."

       

        

An aerial view of the compound and the surrounding canyon after the devastation of the Creek fire. Thank you to all the fire fighters and first response workers who protected our compound and the animals who call the waystation home. *raw drone footage provided by Stephen Payne (Paynie)*

You can also check out our video on YouTube


Book a Private Event

There are opportunities to attend or book a private gathering in the sanctuary garden of our founder, Martine Colette. For detailed information, please call (818) 899-5201