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GLO Hotels support the operations of the Wildlife Hospital

A seal pup in trouble. A toad woken up too early from hibernation. A sparrow hawk that has hurt its wing. The patient base of the Wildlife Hospital of Helsinki Zoo is broad, and far too often the injury was caused by a human.

About a thousand wild animals are treated every year at the Wildlife Hospital operating in connection with Helsinki Zoo. The most typical patients include squirrels, hedgehogs and waterfowl, but the hospital is also visited by rarer customers, such as Saimaa ringed seals and flying squirrels.

“The spectrum of animal species treated is diverse. Even at this moment, we are sheltering a few more unusual rehabilitees, such as a grass snake hatchling that has strayed from the nest and a toad woken up too early from hibernation. In the springtime, we often also care for seal pups that have strayed from their mothers”, says Sanna Sainmaa, a Helsinki Zoo veterinarian working at the Wildlife Hospital.

Animals are brought into care by both private individuals and authorities. Too often, the injuries have been directly or indirectly caused by humans.

“In this job, you see concretely the kinds of predicaments that animals get into because of people’s actions. For example, fishing lines, hooks, garden nets and the wrong kind of food cause serious injuries to wild animals.”

Wild animals are a different thing altogether

Everyday life at the Wildlife Hospital varies by season. Summer is the busiest time, and three veterinary nurses are needed then to treat the animals in addition to a veterinarian. Sometimes treatment measures must also be adapted.

“You cannot have in-depth knowledge of all the species that come in. In such cases, you have to approach the matter a bit more broadly. In practice, for example, different birds of prey can be cared for in much the same way.”

As little time as possible is spent with the animals.

 “Many people think that we pet and groom the animals here. However, being close to a human is always unpleasant and stressful to a wild animal. That is why patients are left in peace as much as possible.”

“Another common misconception relates to animal young found alone in nature. People are often unnecessarily worried about them – it is quite normal for the young of, for example, birds, elk and brown hares to spend long periods of time alone between feedings.” 

Putting a stop to indifference

Sainmaa has been working at Helsinki Zoo since 2011.

“The choice of this career path has been affected by broader values: I like being able to nurture, for my part, the biodiversity of nature.”

“The best thing about my work are the experiences of success – it is always equally wonderful to be able to return animals to the wild or to increase people’s understanding of living in harmony with nature.”

Sainmaa would like to shake people to take better care of nature.

“It seems that the need to defend wild animals is ever increasing. Animal habitats are growing smaller all the time. At the same time, moving in nature with disregard and leaving behind, for example, fishing hooks, lines or litter causes much suffering.”

“Everything cannot be done on human terms. We are also talking about grass-roots level understanding: if, for example, a bird is defending its nest in the spring, people should give it space. Sometimes, humans can also be the ones to give way.”

Helsinki Zoo, where the Wildlife Hospital operates, is one the oldest zoos in the world and among Helsinki’s most popular attractions. Helsinki Zoo is home to about 150 animal species and more than a thousand-plant species.

Do this when you encounter an animal in need of help

If you encounter an orphaned or sick animal, first check its actual need for help. The young of squirrels, seagulls and hares, for example, rarely need human assistance. If help is really needed, read the instructions on what to do here. You can also transport the animal in need of help to the Helsinki Zoo ticket sales office in Mustikkamaa. Please notify Helsinki Zoo of the incoming patient in advance so that appropriate preparations can be made.

Do you want to support the operations and development of the Wildlife Hospital?

10% of the proceeds from the GLO Lynx soft toys sold at our reception desks and selected à la carte signature dishes are donated to the Wildlife Hospital. You can also make a donation directly to the Korkeasaaren ystävät association. 

A green and luxurious hotel? Yes, it is possible. The Green Dream environmental programme makes our dreams come true. We are committed to green values, for example, by optimising water and energy use and reducing waste. Read more about our Green Dream environmental programme: 

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