Unexpected destinations: Hope for Wildlife in Seaforth, Nova Scotia

Hope for Wildlife, a wildlife rehabilitation centre located outside of Halifax on the Atlantic coast in Seaforth, NS isn’t a typical travel destination – for locals or visitors. However, it’s among the more delightful and inspiring places I’ve visited in ages.

I’ve wanted to visit HFW for some time. I’m an avid follower of their work through their regular Facebook updates, where they provide detailed information and updates about the injured wild animals brought in for care.

Hope for Wildlife in a non-profit organization that provides care and rehabilitation to injured wildlife. Nova Scotia’s vast diversity of critters means the patient complement at HFW is always changing. The summer season culminates in an open house, which is meant to entertain as much as it educates, providing families with the opportunity to learn about and interact with Nova Scotia wildlife.

The 2012 open house saw perfect weather and large crowds. Luckily, a volunteer-run shuttle was picking up visitors at the furthest parking spots and ferrying them back and forth.

Hope for Wildlife Seaforth Open House traffic

I was struck by how the lovely serene setting. HFW is located on a small tidal pool, directly across the street from the ocean.

Hope for Wildlife Open House

My first stop was the education centre, where a number of residents who cannot be released after rehab are housed, along with lots of information about these animals in their natural habitats, as well as compelling reasons why they don’t make the best pets. Like these sugar gliders. Meet Ophelia (you can see the back of her buddy Marcel’s head at the bottom of the image):

Hope for Wildlife sugar gliders

Next to the sugar gliders, Archie the owl hid behind a branch, just out of view. Such a sweet little guy, even if he was scared of the crowds.

Hope for Wildlife owl

The animals that cannot be released back into the wild are used for educational purposes. This little skunk, Maxwell, couldn’t be released because he is missing a leg, but has a new job now as an education animal. (He has also been de-scented, just in case you were curious!)

Hope for Wildlife education animal skunk

Hey, giant rabbits! As lifelong animal lover, I was distracted at almost every turn by something cute and floppy.

Hope for Wildlife giant rabbits

Going into one of the larger care areas, you’ll find patient board unlike anything you’ll see in a hospital.

Hope for Wildlife patient board

Visiting in the middle of the afternoon, some of the younger mammals were sleepy. Shhh, be quiet around sleeping babies!

Hope for Wildlife sleeping baby raccoons

On the other side of the building, the baby birds were wide awake and they were hungry. If my scrawled notes are to be believed, they are cedar waxwings, and they were being fed some nourishing cat food. Re-purposing food and other items is a recurring theme at Hope for Wildlife.

Hope for Wildlife baby birds

I was hoping to see some foxes, however, all of the foxes from earlier in the summer had been successfully returned to the wild. Instead, there were 25 raccoons being cared for and they provided lots of entertainment for the crowd.

Hope for Wildlife raccoons

A quick headcount revealed only about 10 raccoons, but if you looked up, the rest of the herd were hanging out in the rafters of their enclosure, snoozing the day away.

Hope for Wildlife raccoons

I felt bad for this little guy on the far left. He was really tired and completely over the crowds and the other raccoons crawling over him.

Hope for Wildlife raccoons

My only disappointment is that I didn’t get to see one of the real stars of Hope for Wildlife, a pine marten named Gretel who is a permanent resident at the sanctuary and all-around character. I will just have to go back next summer to see her!

After an afternoon of educational animal fun, it was time to grab a shuttle back to the car. On our way out, we caught a glimpse of a small seal who was garnering attention in the tidal pool. I’m not clear whether it was a patient or a resident at Hope for Wildlife, but he or she seemed very comfortable.

Hope for Wildlife seal

The really great news is that the open house welcomed over 2,100 visitors and raised $13,000 for their ongoing operations.

See for yourself: 

Hope for Wildlife 5909 Route 207, Seaforth, NS.  During the summer season, it’s open regularly for visitors, which culminates in an open house at the end of the season with educational sessions. In the off-season, it’s appointment only.



  1. OH, my goodness. I’m in love. Your shot of the baby birds is fantastic. I also fell for Ophelia, Archie, Maxwell, AND the sleeping racoons. The location is also beautiful. The perfect day trip! T.


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