Town Crier: Oakland hills animal rescuers need your help


A rescued fawn suckles on the hair of his surrogate mother, Lila Travis - founder of the Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue in Montclair.

MONTCLARION: June 18, 2010

Ever wonder what a baby animal does when it’s sick or orphaned? Its chances of survival are greatly diminished, unless Lila Travis comes along. Lila runs a wildlife rehabilitation center in the Oakland hills just below Skyline and Broadway Terrace. There are 51 animals at the center right now – everything from a baby opossum to a nest of newborn peepers. The baby birds share a heating blanket with a crippled bunny.

     Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue has been operating for almost 10 years, but is suddenly in danger of closing. The landlord wants to sell the property and Lila and her husband and toddler need to pack up the animals and move. It’s a daunting task. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into this place,” she said, looking at the steep hillside property that had to be terraced by volunteers before cages could be built. She’s found another piece of land on which to move, but they need to come up with the money.

     The folks at the Montclair Wildlife Fund want to see the center survive. “We both would be delighted to see Yggdrasil get some attention and help,” said the fund’s Lee Richter, who along with her husband, Gary, owns Montclair Veterinary Hospital. “We have donated funds and supplies to them as well.”

     On the day I was there, a spotted fawn who’d been hit by a car came up to greet me. His big brown eyes looked longingly at Lila, his surrogate mom. He was probably ready for his feeding. But so were the squirrels, skunks and gopher snakes, all in various stages of recuperation. Soon some of Lila’s network of volunteers would arrive. “We help six to seven hundred animals a year,” she said. “Lots of our volunteers are vet techs and I am trained in wildlife triage.”

     If you have room in your heart (and your budget) to help keep the center open, check out their website at There, you’ll find more information and a way to donate money to this non-profit center that keeps wounded and orphaned animals alive, so they can someday return to the wild.

      About town: Happy first anniversary to Magpie, the cool “skater dude” shop in Montclair. Kevin Benafield has found a niche in the community with his work with Teen Power and Montclair Rec. Center. They co-sponsored skate events and are working on building a permanent ramp in the park.

     Sweet event: There’s no need for wedding crashers at this event. Mercy Retirement and Care Center is throwing a free wedding reception and fashion show, Saturday (June 19) featuring vintage gowns from as far back as 1937. The show includes the wedding gown worn by 90 year old resident Cecilia O’Brien, who has kept her dress, veil and shoes in mint condition with the original Livingston Brother’s store box. For reservations, call (510)534-8547.

     Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418, by email at or on the web at Follow Ginny on Twitter at


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