The Coast News Group
Howard the duck takes some food from Trish Jackman, wildlife director at the San Diego Wildlife Center in Carlsbad on Feb. 22. The center, which is a program of the Rancho Coastal Humane Society, is hosting a baby shower for newborn wildlife animals on March 9. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Baby shower to benefit Rancho Coastal Humane Society

CARLSBAD — The soaking winter rains are expected to have a profound effect on the region’s wildlife.

As such, the San Diego Wildlife Center, a program of the Encinitas-based Rancho Coastal Humane Society, is getting ready for an influx of abandoned, injured or sick wild animals at its Carlsbad location as spring approaches.

And to prepare, the center is hosting its first-ever baby shower, seeking donations from paper towels to food for the expected uptick in animals coming through the doors. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 9 at 2380 Camino Via Roble in Carlsbad.

Adrianna Elihu, a wildlife technician at the San Diego Wildlife Center in Carlsbad, displays a soon-to-be released barn owl the center rehabilitated. The center will host a baby shower on March 9 to support newborn wildlife making their way to the center. Photo by Steve Puterski

“The baby shower is our first, fully dedicated event to wildlife,” said Rancho Coastal Humane Society President Judi Sanzo. “Part of the message is the education component.”

The center opened in April 2018 and has rehabilitated and rescued nearly 800 wildlife animals. Trish Jackman, wildlife director, said the center will receive any type of animal, but its focus is on birds and smaller mammals, such as rabbits and squirrels.

She said they do occasionally rehab birds of prey, but larger apex predators are stabilized and then transported to other organizations who can handle those species, such as bobcats and coyotes.

“Now that the word is getting out, we are anticipating a much higher volume of patients,” Jackman said. “San Diego wildlife is some of the most diverse wildlife in the U.S.”

Some animals, though, cannot be rehabilitated, so individuals or organizations with the skills and means to tend to the animals adopt them. For example, the center houses Howard, a duck missing part of his top bill.

He will be on display during the baby shower, although other animals, such as several owls and a hawk, will not.

Sanzo and Jackman said there is a fine balance when it comes to caring for the injured animals being released back into the wild. Those animals still must maintain a fear of humans, as people are predators, yet their caregivers need to be tender enough to adequately care for the animals.

One of the core principles is to provide triage for animals and, if the center cannot accommodate the animal, link up with a partner organization and provide transportation, which is a delicate matter in its own right.

“We endeavored to expand our reach in animal welfare to include wildlife,” Sanzo said. “This was a logical expansion. We went back and looked at it as a board (she was a former member) and decided a wildlife center made sense for us.”

The center came into life out of necessity when the Project Wildlife left its rehabilitation presence in North County, although the organization still receives animals. Since last year, the S.D. Wildlife Center has filled the void and received a $10,000 grant from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for transportation efforts.

Financially, though, the center operates through meager means, strictly from donations, grants and volunteers. Before it can begin to receive significant funding through state and federal grants, the center must show a history of performance.

“We are not near where we need to be,” Sanzo said. “A facility like this costs about $500,000 per year to run.”To see a complete list of baby shower gifts, visit