The Board of Directors of Wildlife Waystation terminated Chief Operating Officer Matthew Simmons on Sunday, July 28 after 70 days of employment. At the same time, the Board also asked for the resignation of Board Member David Bruyette. The Board cited “non-approved and non-authorized transactions and actions by staff deemed detrimental to the overall health of the 501c3.” Wildlife Waystation Veterinarian Rebecca Richard resigned on the Tuesday thereafter. The Wildlife Waystation is no longer associated with these individuals, they are not involved with the facility and will not be involved in any future animal placement processes. Any and all information they have distributed this week includes inaccuracies.
0n August 11, 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 this year and remains in her retirement. Authority for the organization resides entirely with Wildlife Waystation’s Board of Directors. Colette states “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 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 have taken 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. This last week has been difficult for all of the Wildlife Waystation’s community. Until now, the Waystation has been ignoring the misinformation derived from unauthorized sources, to focus on animal care. Donations can be made at www.wildlifewaystation.org.
More about Wildlife Waystation www.wildlifewaystation.org
Wildlife Waystation is located in the Angeles National Forest just north of Los Angeles. The 160-acre sanctuary has rescued more than 77,000 animals during the last 43 years. Wildlife Waystation is the oldest sanctuary of its kind in the United States. It has been home to Siberian and Bengal tigers, lions, leopards, bobcats, mountain lions, wolves, coyotes, primates, hyenas, bears, foxes, reptiles, exotic birds, birds of prey, bison, alpaca and many more. There are more than 40 chimpanzees that were once used for testing in biomedical research laboratories. Recently, our sanctuary has been home to 129 species totaling 475 animals — all of which were rescued as abused, abandoned, orphaned, injured or otherwise unwanted.
14831 Little Tujunga Canyon Road ~ Angeles National Forest ~ California 91342-5999
Tel-818/686-6681 ~ Fax-818/890-1107 ~ www.wildlifewaystation.org
A Tax Exempt Charitable Corporation – Fed ID #95-3190812