A Canadian zoo in his own backyard

By Sean Delaney

Doctor Dolittle is a story that has entertained children and adults for decades, because humans have always held a special relationship and fascination with animals. Whether the innate traits within dogs that see them loyal to humans as purely a part of their personality, or the ease with which early humans domesticated the cat and made them a part of millions of homes around the world, animals and humans share a special bond.

And stories of that bond have entertained and fascinated people throughout history.

In that spirit, we welcome introducing you to Emery Village’s own Doctor Dolittle (in a sense), Giulio Villani.

He lives on a ravine lot in Emery Village and is graced with a natural oasis in his backyard. And since his arrival in 1971, Villani has been enjoying the Emery wildlife as part of his daily existence.

“I have a large garden and I actually put some food out,” Villani said about why he sees so many four-legged visitors. “I get deer coming here, possums, coyotes, raccoons and even a beaver.”

And that particular visitor made Villani realize that he might have something wonderfully special going on.

“The river is quite south of me, below me,” he said. “This beaver came from another area entirely and travelled quite a bit to get to my backyard. And he even chopped down an apple tree.”

Villani has a camera system in his backyard, set up to monitor his homestead. For years now, it has been capturing images of his natural visitors however and leaving him with a collection of memories. He also has a picnic table he made himself that he has set up in his backyard for other visitors who may want to stop and enjoy the views themselves.

“It’s a beautiful area,” he said.

And this past year his animal visitors include a statuesque and regal leader.

“We have a large buck who comes around,” he said. “A girl who was living in the upstairs of my home and I named him Captain Buck, because he looked like a captain. He has a real nice set of antlers on him you could see from a far distance.”