(Wilton/Ridgefield, CT) — Wilton and Ridgefield’s Woodcock Nature Center is more than just 149 unspoiled acres of pond, wetlands and publicly accessible trails. The Nature Center is also home to a variety of living local and exotic animals including over thirty reptiles and amphibians and a handful of injured birds of prey: two Barred Owls, one Great Horned Owl and one Red Tailed Hawk.

The staff at Woodcock works hard to care for these creatures, from making sure they see the veterinarian regularly to feeding a balanced diet and keeping the temperature just right in their environments. All to the tune of more than $15,000 per year.

“As a small nonprofit, this represents a significant cost to the Nature Center,” commented Executive Director Lenore Herbst. “But, these animal educators are essential to our programming; they are part of the team here at Woodcock.”

These hard-working ambassador animals also build up quite an appetite: Woodcock's hawks and owls chow down on 500 mice, rats and chicks each month and the resident reptiles and amphibians eat over 5 pounds of veggies, 10,000 mealworms, and 12 dozen crickets. Feeding the animals takes more than a nibble out of the nature center's annual budget.

“Our resident animals teach summer campers about habitats and animal behavior, they visit schools as part of our outreach programming, and they serve as a draw for daily visitors,” Herbst continued. “Interactions with a wide variety of birds, amphibians and reptiles opens the door to a deeper understanding and appreciation for our natural world, a key component of the Nature Center’s mission.”

To support animal care-related expenses, the nature center has kicked off a summer “Feeding Frenzy” fundraising campaign. Members of the community are encouraged to donate – any amount is appreciated and all donations are tax-deductible and can be made online here.
 
Individual animals can also be “adopted” though a unique “Adopt and Animal” program. Learn more at woodcocknaturecenter.org. The community is also invited to visit the animals regularly – visit the Center’s website for the best times.