Live animals have an incredible draw. In fact, they are what first brought me to Audubon. I started out here six years ago as an animal care volunteer. Over the years, my involvement spread to other parts of the organization as well. I've made lifelong friends and some of my favorite memories through Audubon. Now I work here.
When I go into classrooms for Audubon presentations, the first thing I do is ask the kids, ''What is your favorite thing at Audubon?'' Hands fly up, and invariably, no matter the grade level, the answers I get are ''Liberty!,'' ''The snakes!,'' ''Lincoln!'' One by one, the kids list all of Audubon's resident live animals. I then ask if anyone from Audubon has ever been to their classroom before, and if they remember what we talked about. Their answers always include, ''You brought animals!'' Clearly, our animals leave a lasting impression and provide memorable experiences with creatures which people might otherwise never get a chance to see.
At this year's Snowflake Festival, I was in charge of the Audubon artifact table full of furs, skulls, bones and turtle shells. In my previous experiences with manning tables and booths for other organizations at fairs and festivals, I've found that people generally loathe to be approached or listen to your pitch, whatever that may be, and I really can't blame them. However, this time I found it was completely different because of one thing - I was holding Lincoln, Audubon's box turtle. Adults and kids alike flocked to my table for a chance to pet Lincoln. Consequently, folks were more open to hearing what I had to say. This is why we refer to our live animals as Audubon Ambassadors. Ambassador Lincoln helped me accomplish Audubon's mission of connecting people to nature.
Liberty, the Audubon’s resident non-releasable bald eagle, is one of the center’s most popular animals.
Our live animal collection includes more than 20 animals. We have nine turtle species, a five-foot rat snake and various frogs and fish to name a few, not to mention our non-releasable bald eagle, Liberty. As you can imagine, it takes quite a bit of time, energy and money to care for all of these creatures daily. We've developed our brand new Adoption Program so that you can help! No, you don't get to take the animal home with you. Rather, when you adopt an animal at Audubon, your donation goes directly toward animal care. You are helping us buy food and other needed supplies for our in-house live animals. Animal adoptions make great souvenirs, or give them as gifts for birthdays, holidays, achievements or any occasion. Adoption packages are available for a donation of $20 and include a personalized adoption certificate, a biography and factsheet for the animal of your choice, a 4x6-inch photo of your adopted animal, and a subscription to our email newsletter!
You can even adopt an animal online. Visit our website at www.jamestownaudubon.org and click on the Adoption Program link to make your donation online safely and securely through PayPal. If you prefer to mail us your donation, you can also download and print an adoption application from our website, or give us a call at 569-2345.
I'd like to ask you, as I do in each of my classrooms, ''What is your favorite thing at Audubon?'' If you've made a connection with one of our live animals over the years, I encourage you to consider our adoption program as a way to help us continue providing out-of-the-ordinary experiences and encounters with live animals for years to come.
Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road, just off Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails and Liberty viewing area are open from dawn until dusk. During the winter the Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Monday, and 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. Visit www.jamestownaudubon.org for more information or call 569-2345.
Tricia Bergstue is a naturalist at Audubon.