B.C. wildlife rescuer Gunther Golinia, who helped rehab hundreds of animals over 3 decades, dies aged 90

Animal lovers on B.C.’s North Coast are mourning the passing of Gunther Golinia, the longtime operator of the Prince Rupert Wildlife Rehab Shelter.

Golinia and his wife Nancy opened the shelter in 1988, running it as volunteers and relying on donations to help cover costs.

He continued to be active in its operation up until his death last week, at the age of 90.

Though the intention was to provide a place for injured wildlife to recover, the Golinias also took in feral cats and even abandoned exotic pets, such as a python.

On any given year, the Golinias would have between 70 to 200 different animals including bear cubs, deer and hummingbirds.

“You have to be devoted to it,” Golinia said in 2015 during a CBC interview from a hospital room, where he was recovering from blood poisoning after being scratched by a rescued bald eagle.

“It gives you such an uplift to see how an animal that was close to death or in very bad shape revives itself … It’s fantastic.”

In 2019, the Golinias received a B.C. Achievement Award recognizing their years of service in the community. They were nominated by a local conservation officer who was among the many people who would bring the couple injured animals.

According to a post on the shelter’s Facebook page, Golinia died on Nov. 9 following a battle with diabetes. He had turned 90 just one week earlier.

The post also asks the public to refrain from visiting the shelter, as Nancy Golinia is isolating due to COVID-19 concerns.

Prince Rupert Mayor Lee Brain said the city will continue to contribute funds to help keep the shelter operating, and asked members of the public to offer financial support through an online fundraiser.

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