The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary held a luncheon at Bridge Creek Tuesday to reveal a number of exciting new things happening at the facility that houses non-releasable wildlife in Red Lodge. YWS Board President Laura Getz gave reasons why the sanctuary is a great location for a family outing and shared her own stories of taking her children there to see native Montana animals and have an educational experience that cannot be found anywhere else in our region. She also gave a quick history of the Board of Directors search for the right person to head the newly named organization, and highlighted the reasons why Ellie Marion was ultimately chosen as the Executive Director. “Ellie’s strong understanding of the business world, and her skills in economics and financial planning made it clear that she was the right person to lead our wildlife sanctuary successfully into the future.” Executive Director Ellie Marion also spoke and provided a vision of a future sanctuary that will be a premier wildlife facility and be a contributing factor to the economic base of Red Lodge. “When we build larger habitats, an education center, and are able to expand our facility, visitors will spend one or two or even three hours walking through. That means that at the end of their tour, our staff can recommend they go for lunch in Red Lodge. We already have a number of guests tell us they came for the day, and ended up staying the night in town to visit again. What we are planning is a long term permanent tourist attraction that will be sustainable and a big part of the economic base of Red Lodge” Marion went on the to list many new improvements to the existing facility including a new management team, animal enrichment programs, a new barn, and the soon to be launched education department with an education manager. She also shared with guests that this year saw a summer concert series, the first wedding in the park, the new website launch and three new Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary billboards on Highway 212. The new Assistant Director of YWS Emily Bertino gave a talk on the industry of wildlife sanctuaries, and how they are able to be both financial contributors to their communities, but also save the lives of many animals who are unable to survive on their own. “The sanctuary network in this country is very big, we all talk to each other. When someone knows of an animal in need of rescuing, we all call each other to see if we can place it. One of the most important things we can do at YWS is provide enough natural habitats to allow for the rescuing of more wildlife. These animals are kept in homes, given improper diets, and do not lead a natural life. Orphaned wildlife will always be an issue too, and these baby animals can be given a chance at a long, healthy life and become great education animals for the public -IF we have space for them.” Bertino announced a new pledge program for supporters as well. She says the Red Lodge is the perfect community for a premier sanctuary and is encouraged by all the interest and support she has encountered. “This town is just amazing. I’m so lucky to be involved with this great cause in a town that understands the importance of educating the public about our local wildlife and ecosystem. We at YWS are all very excited to build our future with a true “Red Lodge Identity” reflected in everything we do.” The luncheon concluded with the introduction of a new multi year pledge program that is designed to allow for long term financial planning on the part of YWS, and insure that the current facility and animals continue to thrive. For more information on this program, or future YWS events, please contact Emily Bertino at Emily@YellowstoneWS.com .