When a child or adult meets a turtle, snake, or raptor in a safe and welcoming setting, they often feel a kinship with that animal – and it positively influences how they perceive wildlife. This kinship occurs daily at Schlitz Audubon. Children who appreciate nature early on will aspire to protect it in later years as nature becomes a part of their life. Through our Animal Ambassador and Raptor Programs, visitors can see, hear, and sometimes even touch wildlife in a way that is life changing. When nature becomes an important part of people’s lives, everyone in the community benefits.
Meet Our Animal Ambassadors in the Great Hall
Visit our Great Hall on any given day to meet some of our animal ambassadors, who reside in high-quality enclosures located in viewable areas of the building. Eddie, our ornate box turtle, is often seen ambling through his terrarium, an appealing, life-like habitat near the entrance doors. Emerson, our large common snapping turtle, is a favorite of Center visitors, seen swimming in his 530-gallon, well-appointed tank, complete with waterfall and basking rock. These animals and others, such as frogs and a snake, serve as our in-house welcoming crew.
Thanks to our donors, volunteers are able to care for these creatures, providing ample food and attention to over 50 of our animal ambassadors. Our reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates are looked after in a dedicated state-of-the-art care room, where volunteers provide enrichment for and observe the animals for any behaviors that might indicate health issues, as well as clean their homes.
Wonder at the Birds in Our Raptor Program
The birds in our Raptor Program are also assisted by volunteers who provide opportunities for the community to be close to a majestic bird of prey. Our Raptor Program is a forever home to 15 magnificent birds of prey, including owls, hawks, falcons, and Bald Eagles. Our program even includes an American Crow, who inspires audiences by painting, and a Turkey Vulture who impresses people with flight displays. Seeing these birds and sensing their powerful presence is awe-inspiring.
All of the birds in our program have either been injured or imprinted on humans. They can’t survive on their own, so are able to live at the Center, assisted by our raptor educators and volunteers, in their own private building. Thanks to our donors, four staff and 42 volunteers present as many as 600 programs annually, where they educate about our birds’ counterparts in the wild. Alongside meeting a bird of prey, visitors learn about lifestyle changes that they can make to help preserve wild raptors, such as not littering on the highway or to avoid using lead fishing tackle.
Personal experiences with our raptors and other animal ambassadors, paired with timely and relevant education, create a strong relationship with wildlife that spurs a commitment to preserving it.