Local kids got up close and personal with the animals at the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center on Saturday at the center’s Day with Wildlife fundraiser.
Visitors of all ages had the opportunity to meet some of the center’s resident animals and learn more about what the Stanislaus Wildlife Center does for orphaned or injured animals. The animal ambassadors included a skunk, a squirrel, snakes and varieties of birds. Oscar the burrowing owl was a favorite with kids.
The tiny owl was caught on barbed wire and injured his wing permanently. He now lives happily at the Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center.
The Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center provides rehabilitation and care for injured or orphaned wildlife. In 2010 the center received 1,881 animals representing 124 different species. The center releases animals back into the wild whenever possible, but some cannot be released for reasons related to the health or safety of the animal. Some of these held-over animals become permanent residents of Stanislaus Wildlife Center and are used as education animals for public events and classroom talks.
“This event is for the public to see what happens here. They just get a much better idea of what we do,” said Stanislaus Wildlife Center director Donna Burt.
The 2011 Day with Wildlife also included activities for the younger visitors. Kids were treated to face painting, games and educational activities. One station had owl pellets that children could dissect to see what the owl had eaten. Alexander Myles, 9, of Ceres, took his turn at the owl pellet station on Saturday afternoon to discover more about animals.
“He has a very kind heart and loves animals, so I wanted to bring him out here to see all aspects of wildlife care. You see so much negativity it’s nice to show him an event where everyone is happy,” said Cori Myles, Alexander’s mom.
Alexander enjoyed seeing all of the animals, but he came specifically to see two of the center’s resident animals.
“I wanted to see the snakes,” Alexander said.
Burt added that most people who drop off animals at the care center only get to see the lobby. The wildlife center is no longer allowed to give tours of the care facility because of public safety concerns, but A Day with Wildlife gives visitors a feel for what the center does on a day-to-day basis.
“People e-mail me all the time and ask ‘what happened to that little bird I brought in?’ … people want to follow up about the animals, and they can if they call the center,” Burt said.
Burt estimated that around 600 people came to the Day with Wildlife. The event is the center’s main yearly fundraiser, but Burt said that it was not as profitable as past events. The center will continue to receive checks in the mail from sponsors who attended the event, but Burt said she doesn’t expect the final total to be much higher than $4,000.
“I do want to thank all of our sponsors and the people who attended the event. We can’t do it without them,” Burt said.