Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Support quality journalism
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24weeks
The Globe and Mail
Support quality journalism
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Globe and Mail website displayed on various devices
Just$1.99
per week
for the first 24weeks

var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){console.log("scroll");var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1);

It’s one of the Toronto Wildlife Centre’s most peculiar rescue missions yet: Saving 200 baby ring-billed gulls that jumped off a Scarborough rooftop to escape high temperatures.

About 50 gulls perished, but the rest were saved. Now, staff say they are struggling to keep up with the chicks’ demands.

“We’re going through lake smelt like crazy,” Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, said. The baby gulls are being fed freshwater smelt and earthworms while undergoing regular check-ups in an effort to nurse them back to health and release them back to the colony.

Story continues below advertisement

An estimated 150 gulls survived the leap during last Monday’s heat wave, Ms. Karvonen said. Some died on impact, and others died as a result of their injury or were euthanized.

Many gulls choose to set up colonies on wide rooftops in the city, but the exposure of direct sunlight and lack of shade on some can cause a problem for the little ones. “Their feet were actually starting to burn,” Ms. Karvonen said. Being too young to fly, she said they had no choice but to jump.

People who worked in the Scarborough building notified the wildlife centre of the large number of baby gulls on the ground. This sparked a three-hour rescue mission to capture and treat them for burns, dehydration and fractures back at the North York centre, Ms. Karvonen said.

The rescue team then attempted to reunite some of the healthier babies with their colony, but dozens of them jumped again after a few days. According to other wildlife rescue centres in North America, while baby gulls have been found jumping off of roofs before, the scale of this incident is unprecedented.

The incident has put a strain on the centre, prompting a public call for donations of food, plastic kiddie pools, and cash. Ms. Karvonen said a summer staff member was hired to assist with caring for the gulls.,

“It seems like almost every year we get a mass instant like this,” she said.

In the past few years, the centre cared for more than 100 snakes because their hibernation place was dug up. It also housed more than 100 bats that were displaced because of a construction project, and 115 ducks that were affected by an oil spill.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re at the mercy of what happens out there in the world,” Ms. Karvonen said.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies