Founded in 1965 and incorporated in 1976, Wildlife Waystation is located on 160 acres in the Angeles National Forest in Southern California. Wildlife Waystation was both nationally and internationally recognized. We accepted tigers from Ireland, lions from New Zealand and Canada, and both native and exotic animals from across the United States. Every rescue was important and often life-saving. Since 1976, Wildlife Waystation helped more than 77,000 abused, abandoned, orphaned, and injured animals. These include Siberian and Bengal tigers, lions, leopards, ligers, jaguars, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, camels, primates, hyenas, bears, foxes, reptiles, exotic birds, birds of prey, and more.
0n August 11, 2019, the Wildlife Waystation’s Board of Directors voted to surrender its permit to operate as an animal sanctuary to the California Department Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) and to close the facility. While CDFW now maintains authority, Wildlife Waystation is closely cooperating to ensure that daily operations remain smooth. Both parties are working together to place all animals in appropriate wildlife facilities. CDFW and Wildlife Waystation’s primary concern is for the health and welfare of the animals. No animals will be euthanized during this process. This process is expected to take up to one year.
Founder of Wildlife Waystation Martine Colette retired in May of 2019 and remains in her retirement. Authority for the organization resides entirely with Wildlife Waystation’s Board of Directors. Colette stated “I am devastated and heartbroken. However, the focus is on what is best for the animals. We need to do the right thing for our residents.” Colette thanks all of the supporters who funded Wildlife Waystation through four decades.
The Board of Directors profusely thanks Martine Colette for the 43 years of service. She is responsible for rescuing more than 77,000 animals that otherwise would not have had homes. Martine Colette is credited for changing the entire culture of the welfare and sanctuary of animals. Wildlife Waystation was the very first sanctuary of its kind created in the United States. It was also the first facility to care for chimpanzees from biomedical research laboratories and has the largest chimp population in the Western United States. Colette rescued her first animal in 1965 and Wildlife Waystation was accredited as a 501c3 non-profit in 1977.
The aging facility survived multiple fires, but was extensively damaged in the 2017 Creek Fire and again during flooding in early 2019. This damage created an insurmountable need for funding to meet current standards. At this time, Wildlife Waystation is asking for the public’s support to protect all of our animals and fund our efforts to close the facility, including payroll for the remaining dedicated staff that took care of these animals for decades. The staff’s familiar presence helps to keep the animals calm and adds an invaluable sense of normality during this time of transition.
Booee, who continued to use his sign language skills to make requests for treats or play, and Sammy, who continued to paint, are gone now – as are some of the other chimps who were older when they arrived. But after spending much of their lives in medical research, they were allowed to live out their remaining years nestled in the hills under the warm California sun. Each chimp added something special to our lives and we are so grateful that we had the opportunity to finally provide them with a life of compassionate care – one they so richly deserved.