If you’ve ever squirmed in your seat while someone gave you The Talk — you know, the one about the birds and the bees, ahem — then be prepared to laugh until your sides hurt during an upcoming comedy night that is raising funds for wildlife rehabilitation.
Valentine’s Day may get you a little hot under the collar next month, during a comedic look at sex in the wild as part of an online fundraiser hosted by the Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre.
Special guest Grant Furniss, senior director of animal care and conservation at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, said his nine years of acting as a field guide in South Africa, and talking to tourists about animals, will come in handy.
"I enjoyed telling African folklore stories, which are highly entertaining," he said. "I find that everyone likes to hear a story, rather than just the facts. And if it has to do with animals, that’s my subject."
Although Furnish wouldn’t supply any specific anecdotes, he said he’s been collecting stories about animal mating rituals that are both fascinating and eye-opening. "People will be Googling things afterward," he said. "I will not be bending the truth at all. I might get a little R-rated because it’s to be adults-only with no kids in the audience."
If you’re in that virtual audience, don’t think you can sit back on your side of the digital divide. Furniss plans to make his show interactive. "I like bringing people into the discussion," he said, adding his comedic turn should last around 40 minutes.
The night will also feature food from Chino’s Bistro and beer from Nonsuch Brewing, delivered to the door ahead of time to ticket purchasers in Winnipeg and Steinbach, according to Zoé Nakata, executive director of Wildlife Haven.
Funds raised from ticket sales and from an online art auction to be held Feb. 19 to 28 will be used toward a veterinary medicine room at the wildlife rehabilitation centre, located in Ile des Chênes, Nakata said.
"The art auction will feature wildlife and wild scenes, with art coming from local artists, including some from residents of the centre," she said. "Elliot the turtle and Gryphon the great horned owl are both permanent residents who will make some art."
Every dollar raised in February will be matched by a very generous donor, up to $20,000, according to Nakata. "We normally would hold a gala dinner and an open house to raise funds," she said. "COVID means we have had to adapt."
The Wildlife Haven has had zero disruption of service during the pandemic, Nakata added.
"We have to ensure the welfare of injured wildlife, so our staff and dedicated volunteers are here every day," she said, adding the winter months tend to quieter, largely occupied with rehabilitating wildfowl such as swans or pelicans that couldn’t fly south with their flocks.
The Wildlife Haven social media feed will be teasing 10-second video clips of Furniss talking about the wilder side of wild animals, to wet people’s appetites before Valentine’s Day.
Tickets for the Feb. 14 online event are $125 per couple. For more information, see www.wildlifehaven.ca/thetalk
The Sou'wester community journalist
Susie Strachan is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Susie got her first paying job as a journalist in the late '80s on the Free Press Weeklies, then followed that with 20 years as a reporter, photographer and specialty editor at the Winnipeg Free Press. She then spent 10 years working for WAVE magazine with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, before returning to her roots as the reporter/photographer for The Sou’wester.