Butte County sanctuary needs sponsors, other aid


OROVILLE, Calif. - With 2014 just around the corner there are some big plans for the Barry R. Kirshner Wildlife Sanctuary and Educational Center outside of Oroville, but they could certainly use some help making them happen.

Set in the foothills east of Butte College, the grounds are home to lions, tigers and bears--and much more.

And although visitors are more than welcome to visit the sanctuary, it's not a zoo, the exotic animals on site have a range of health issues and need special care.

"These animals all have challenges and in many cases we're the last stop for them," says Roberta Kirshner, executive director of the sanctuary.

Those challenges include cancers, bone and digestive disorders, genetic defects and more.

One Siberian lynx suffers from a deformed jaw that makes it difficult to hunt prey in the wild, another Siberian tiger is cross eyed and has no depth perception.

And each animal there has his or her own special health condition that makes them unable to be released or unwanted by zoos.

"This cat was supposed to have surgery, her legs were so crooked because of the breeding and with doing physical therapy we taught her to reach and stretch," Kirshner says as she points to a liger that's under the sanctuary's care.

Kirshner is a non-profit sanctuary and it's not cheap to operate.

"I don't think people realize that we feed over 720 pounds of food a day to them. And the bears alone eat 45 pounds each," says Kirshner

There are many other costs to keeping the facility running and they have a number of projects they hope to finish in the coming year.

On Sunday eagle scouts were building new landscaping around a flag pole, and recently Chico state installed a pond.

"And it's going to be excellent for the animals to get out and swim and exercise, but we have to double enclose it so we're looking for a lot of chain link and lumber," Kirshner says.

Beyond those supplies, the sanctuary needs cash to keep up and running.

And again that's where the community comes in, by offering to sponsor these animals who need and deserve very special care.

"We need 42 more sponsors just for the special needs animals that are on site. That would be a tremendous help," Kirshner says. "We want to give them quality of life, not only just nutrition, but that they're content and happy."

If you want to help by donating or becoming a sponsor, want directions to the sanctuary, or just want to learn more, you can by visiting their website.