Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Back to the Wild

An orphaned baby opossum.
While visiting Grandma in Ohio, cousin Debbie took us all to Back to the Wild Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.  Jasper was in heaven surrounded by lots of amazing animals.  Outside the Nature Education Center is a lovely garden, planted with flowers chosen for attracting bees and butterflies.  Jasper ran around attempting to capture as many as possible with his camera.  They participate in a monarch butterfly monitoring program by planting milkweed, looking for monarch caterpillars and pupas and sheltering them in specially designed enclosures so that they can go on about their business without predators.  When the butterflies emerge, they tag them and release them.  They showed us how they are tagged with special stickers that do not harm their wings, and they let Jasper release one. Their tagged monarchs are occasionally spotted in Mexico. They also showed us all their unique animals. They rehabilitate around 2,500 wild animals each year, and the majority are released again.  But they do have a good number of resident animals that are no longer able to take care of themselves in the wild, so they remain as education animals.  Some of these were kept illegally by humans as pets.  The variety is really remarkable.  In addition to some spectacular birds, they have a bobcat, a red fox, an opossum, a skunk and a flying squirrel. Just being able to see these wild animals up close was thrilling, and really moving to learn their stories. We were really impressed with Back to the Wild!  

Cricket in the butterfly garden.  Photo by Jasper.
Bumblebee. Photo by Jasper.
Butterfly.  Photo by Jasper.
Monarch.   Photo by Jasper.
Turtle.  Photo by Jasper.
Bald eagle.
Monarchs emerging.
Jasper releases a monarch.
Monarchs stretching newly unfurled wings.
Great horned owl.
American kestrel.
Eastern box turtle.
Red fox.
Monarch caterpillars.
Eastern screech owl.
Lesser bittern.

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