GOLETA, Calif. - In just a few hours we’ll be able to say new year, new me. In 2020, the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network hopes they’ll finally be able to say new year, new facility.
“It will start at that avocado tree down there,” said Julia Parker, Director of Operations for the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, showing our crew where the two-story building up Fairview Avenue will be built.
The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network has been dreaming of this milestone for years.
“The Holiday Fire might’ve been the biggest impetus it was a big upheaval we had to move our whole operation,” said Parker.
Plans for a new 4,000-5,000 square foot facility were just submitted to Santa Barbara Planning and Development.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself because it is really happening,” said Parker.
The Wildlife Care Network has mastered and maxed out the art of multi-tasking, housing animals in bathrooms and utilizing double-wide trailers.
“We’ll have a lot of rooms that are multi-purpose and so when we have an unusual animal that comes in, we’ll be able to better house them and better care for them. So there’s just a lot more specialty rooms and facilities that will be available in the new space,” explains Elaine Ibarra, Director of Animal Care.
Right now the majority of animal care takes place in a 24x24 foot room with one wash sink, the new facility will have four.
“We won’t be having to compete with laundry and dishes and hand-washing stations. I mean everything happens in the same space right now which adds stress to the animal's lives as well as the staff,” said Ibarra.
With the only sink between Morro Bay and Los Angeles, birds rescued in Santa Barbara usually have to be transported to a more advanced facility in Long Beach, with the enhanced two-story building that won’t be the case.
“It’s going to be so much less stress on the animals but also being able to see the animals all the way through the rehabilitation and to be able to do releases ourselves is very exciting,” said Ibarra.
The new space on 1.4 acres will have dedicated spaces for reception, exams, and triage. A veterinarian has also been hired.
Renderings also show specific rooms for sea birds, songbirds, and a larger area for baby bird rehab complete with full-spectrum UV lighting. There will also be a room for mammals and an isolation room.
Staff will get to take advantage of office space, a break room, a lab, and a kitchen for animal food prep.
“It’s just what we’ve needed for so long and I’m just so happy that we’ve had the community support to make it happen,” said Parker.
The organization hopes to break ground in May or June and construction will take nine to twelve months.