April 22, 2018 marked our very first Birds of Prey Day! In case you missed it, watch the video below to see some of the highlights from our inaugural event, including a golden eagle flight and a few words from master falconers Patrick Miller and Michael Kuriga. After the video, scroll down for a recap of noteworthy Birds of Prey Day happenings!
Master falconer Michael Kuriga gave four talks about these magnificent birds. He had two beautiful goshawks with him, Aurora and Norbert. Michael had so many fascinating stories to share about birds of prey. He even let Aurora perch on our zookeeper, Rachel!
After each of Michael’s talks, master falconer Patrick Miller of ZooAmerica performed flight demonstrations with Bliss the golden eagle. Bliss is one of many birds of prey that Patrick is responsible for at ZooAmerica.
After the flight, Patrick allowed everyone to ask questions and get a closer look at Bliss. Here, you can see a young girl named Clara showing Bliss her “wingspan.” To Clara’s surprise, Bliss reciprocated by showing off her wingspan!
Our own great horned owl, Darwin, had a big day too! Usually he isn’t on exhibit, but works closely with our zookeepers for special events and shows. Before Birds of Prey Day, he had never been around so many people at once! But with zookeeper Rachel around to reassure him, Darwin handled it like a pro!
Darwin sat on his perch and visited with everyone for the entire day. He even happily posed for lots of pictures with people at the zoo!
A huge thank you to master falconers Michael Kuriga and Patrick Miller for sharing their knowledge and their birds with us! We couldn’t be happier with the turnout at our first Birds of Prey Day!
Our first ever Birds of Prey Day event is this Sunday, April 22. Coincidentally, this year also happens to be the Year of the Bird! The Audubon Society and National Geographic, along with over 50 other partners, have declared 2018 the Year of the Bird in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). This landmark legislation has saved millions of birds, but is now in danger of losing its ability to protect them. Read on to learn more about this vitally important conservation law!
What is the MBTA?
In 1918, U.S. Congress created the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as part of a treaty with Great Britain (acting on behalf of Canada). The two countries agreed to stop all hunting of migratory birds that are beneficial or harmless to man. The treaty existed because several species of bird were hunted to the point of near extinction. Eventually the U.S. signed similar treaties with Mexico, Japan, and Russia. Over time, the law has evolved to include almost every species of bird native to the United States. Now, the law also covers incidental bird deaths caused by industries such as wind farms, oil and gas companies, and electricity companies. Before, industries like these had been responsible for millions of easily preventable bird deaths every year. As a result of the MBTA, many companies now work with wildlife programs and conservation groups to develop simple, cost-effective ways to limit incidental deaths.
Why is it important?
The MBTA has already saved many birds from extinction. Notable examples include the Snowy Egret, the Bald Eagle, and the Sandhill Crane. All of these species were brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the protections put in place by the MBTA. However, as new technologies and industries develop, birds face new threats to their well-being. Open oil pits, wind turbines, and cell phone towers are just a few of the modern challenges birds encounter. The implementation of the MBTA must continue to evolve to protect birds from these hazards. Currently, a bill is circulating in Congress that if passed, would no longer hold industries accountable for incidental bird deaths. In short, this bill would effectively take the teeth out of the MBTA, putting birds at risk. In order to continue protecting them, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act must be properly enforced and supported. You can find more information here.
Even though we don’t participate in any bird-specific conservation programs (although we do have three species of birds here), wildlife conservation is very important to us here at the zoo; our very own great horned owl, Darwin, is a rescue! As such, we’re very excited to show him off during our Birds of Prey Day event so that we can bring attention to conservation efforts for all animals.
We’re hosting our first ever Birds of Prey Day on April 22, 2018! And while birds and reptiles and are in fact closely related (see how here), we’re relying on the experts to share information on these fascinating creatures! Read on to learn about Master falconers and our special guests for this fun and educational event.
What does it take to become a Master falconer?
Recently added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritages of Humanity, falconry is the ancient art of hunting with birds of prey. For those who practice it, it is more than a mere hobby—it’s a way of life. Becoming a falconer is no small feat.
If someone is interested in becoming a falconer, first, they must find a General or Master falconer willing to sponsor them. Then, they must train as an Apprentice for two years. When they have finished their apprenticeship, they are able to become a General falconer. After at least five years of being a General falconer, they are finally eligible to become a Master falconer. Throughout this seven year journey, they must pass rigorous exams and maintain strict regulations regarding the care of their birds.
Those who become Master falconers are truly dedicated to birds of prey. We are lucky to have not just one, but two of these experts joining us for Birds of Prey Day! Learn more about our Master falconers, Michael Kuriga and Patrick Miller.
Meet the Masters
For close to forty years, Master falconer Michael W. Kuriga has been training and hunting with a variety of raptors. Practicing the ancient art of falconry has been his passion that has taken him all over the world in pursuit of this noble art form. Michael has lectured to thousands of people throughout the United States and has given talks in the United Kingdom, and The Czech Republic. During his presentation, he will share some of his many adventures concerning Eagles and hawks. He will discuss their ecology, physiology, the current raptor he is handling, and the birds that he has flown. He will also tell stories of the many interesting individuals that share his love of raptors.
Patrick Miller of ZooAmerica
Patrick Miller is currently a Senior Education Specialist in the ZooAmerica education department and a PA licensed Master falconer. He has been with ZooAmerica for over 13 years. His main responsibility is caring for their education collection, which consists of over 70 different animals. He travels all over the state to give talks on various topics, such as: endangered species, native PA wildlife, birds of prey, and more. He has presented at The Hershey Falconry Experience for the past 9 years. Aside from the Falconry Experience, he oversees the husbandry of all raptors used for that program. He is currently the President of The Pennsylvania Falconry and Hawk Trust where he has served on its board for over 4 years. Raptors have completely taken over his life. He loves everything about these amazing creatures and what they are capable of.
See them in action at Birds of Prey Day!
Come see these Master falconers and their birds in person on April 22, 2018! To learn more about this exciting event and purchase tickets, click here.
Croctoberfest is this Saturday, October 7, and we can’t wait! Not only will it be a fun night out at the zoo, but it also supports crocodilian conservation; a portion of all ticket sales will be donated to the Crocodilian Advisory Group. And in the spirit of giving, we decided to offer a Croctoberfest special event coupon!
Upon admission to the event, each guest will be handed a special coupon for 25% off one item from our fine and fair trade jewelry collections!*
These collections include MUCH of our unique jewelry selection, and we hope you’ll take advantage of this limited-time special offer.
So come to Croctoberfest and be prepared to spend a few minutes browsing in the Natural Selections Gift Shop! (And keep in mind, it’s never too early to start your holiday shopping…)
For more information on Croctoberfest, click here.
*Only coupons printed and distributed by Reptiland can be redeemed. No photocopies or reproductions accepted. Coupon valid only during Croctoberfest event (Oct. 7, 2017 from 7-10pm).
It’s the last weekend in October, and we’re going out with a bang. Join us! Celebrate Halloween here at the zoo for a spooktacular weekend.
Treat Bags all Around
Nothing says Halloween like free candy. Visit now through November 1st and get a FREE treat bag! There are fun surprises hidden inside each one, so come claim yours today. Besides, plain old trick-or-treating has nothing on us–we’ve got awesome animals, prehistoric creatures, AND yummy chocolate!
Treat bags available while supplies last.
Last Weekend for Dinos and Butterflies
Take advantage of these exhibits before they close for the season. Sure, they’ll be returning next spring, but who wants to wait that long?
Travel back in time with this prehistoric outdoor adventure! Bigger and better than ever, this year’s exhibit boasts 7 animatronic dinos–the most we’ve ever had!
Experience hundreds of butterflies in flight! Did you know butterflies are found everywhere but Antarctica and they taste with their feet? Learn all this and more with a stroll through our butterfly greenhouse.
Don’t Forget about Fair Trade Month
Our gift shop is full of fair trade treasures, and while we hate to use the “C word” this soon (it rhymes with isthmus), it’s never too early to start your holiday shopping!
So visit this weekend for a win-win-win situation: FREE treat bags for the kiddos (adults, too!), zoo fun for all, and fabulous fair trade gifts that support artisans all over the globe. We can’t think of a better way to spend your Halloween.
Last weekend we hosted Dino Days, an event dedicated to all things prehistoric. It turned out to be a fantastic weekend, despite the uncooperative weather.
Our special guest for this 2-day event was Chris DeLorey, also known as Dr. Dino, Director of Education at the Brevard Zoo. As a paleontologist and dinosaur expert, he’s gone on many digs and has traveled all over the world. He brought fossils and artifacts from his personal collection to share with guests, gave special presentations in our Program Center, and answered all kinds of dino-related questions!
Kids could create their very own fossil rubbing book, and enter to win our Prehistoric Prize Package filled with dino-themed goodies! They also got to take home real dinosaur bone fragments courtesy of Dr. Dino.
It was a fun, educational weekend, and based on all the positive feedback we received, we’re anxious to outdo ourselves next year with another DINO-mite event!
You may have heard ads on the radio or received an email about Wine and Design: Paint for Conservation, but here’s a little more insight into why we’re having this event.
Last year we hosted Cheers to 50 Years, an event celebrating our 50th anniversary. Attendees raised a glass to our milestone with wine and beer samples from 8 local producers. The Genetti generously sponsored the event and provided fantastic food for all 300 guests. The zoo was lit by torches and lanterns, live music filled the air, and zoo keepers strolled around with animals. We even fed our gators and komodo dragons for everyone! It was the first time we threw an event like that, and we received such positive feedback afterwards, we knew we had to do it again (in some capacity).
Without a big anniversary to celebrate, we weren’t sure what to do. Sure, we could throw a big party and invite everyone, but we wanted it to be something more than that; we wanted it to have a purpose. Knowing how popular Wine and Design has become, we wanted to incorporate that with a night at the zoo, but in a way that made sense. Then through a few team brainstorming sessions, we had an “AHA!” moment. We could invite Wine and Design Williamsport to come and teach guests how to paint a tropical scene with exotic frogs, then donate a portion of ticket sales to amphibian conservation! Thus, Wine and Design: Paint for Conservation was born.
Few people realize, but the global amphibian crisis is serious: nearly 1/3 of the world’s amphibian species are known to be threatened or extinct, as many as 159 species may already be extinct, and at least 42% of all amphibian species are declining in population. For these reasons (and other alarming facts not listed), we are donating funds to the Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group (ATAG) to support amphibian conservation. Every little bit helps, and we’re anxious to contribute to this cause, above and beyond our existing conservation efforts.
That’s the backstory. Now for a bit more on the event itself…
As excited as we are to have partnered with Wine and Design, the truth is, you don’t need to paint to enjoy the event (or help frogs). We realize that not everyone is the painting kind, so we’re selling non-painting tickets at a lesser rate for those that just want to enjoy a great night out at the zoo!
The Genetti is providing refreshments and selling wine. Blue River Spell will be playing a little bit of everything (they take requests, too!). We’ll have all the zoo exhibits open*, animal encounters and feedings throughout the evening, and zoo grounds lit up with torches–a perfect summer night!
Another special part of the event comes from one of our very own volunteers, Austin Orelli. Austin helps out at the zoo every Wednesday, and he’s a great worker. Lucky for us, he’s also the talented artist behind The Wildlife of Autism! He will be here selling his animal-inspired artwork and will donate a portion of the proceeds to the ATAG as well. We’re so grateful for his involvement, and we know everyone will enjoy his art!
We invite EVERYONE to come support frog conservation with a night at the zoo! Tickets are on sale now- click here for more information or call 570.538.1869.
Note: Even if you can’t make it to the event, we’d appreciate if you’d share this with your friends and family–the more attendees, the more funds (and awareness) raised for amphibians!
*Our butterfly greenhouse will be open from 7:00-8:00 pm during the event.
While it may feel like winter will never end, this weekend we “spring forward” by moving the clocks ahead an hour; if nothing else, at least it’s a step in the right direction!
Aside from the longer days, sunshine, and greenery to look forward to, we’re especially excited for spring because it means the return of our seasonal exhibits, plenty of kids visiting for field trips, and the anticipation of awesome events to come!
Dinosaurs Come to Life and Butterflies | April 25 – November 1
Our hugely popular dinosaur exhibit is back…and bigger than ever. Dinosaurs Come to Life features 6 static models and 7 life-size animatronic dinosaurs, the most we’ve ever had! With a whole T. rex family, the impressive Quetzalcoatlus (NEW!), and Dilophosaurus‘s new paint job, we can’t wait for you to see them all this spring!
Peaceful music, lush landscaping, and hundreds of flitting beauties–our butterfly greenhouse is like a springtime oasis. We also offer the opportunity to feed the butterflies. Since different species can be seen throughout the duration of the exhibit, be sure to stop in a few times to see them all!
Note: Memberships are great for visiting again and again!
New In the Gift Shop
In preparation for the slew of kids who will be coming through our doors soon, we stocked up on new items for the Natural Selections Gift Shop. Come check them out!
Event Sneak Peek
They’re still in the works, but we’re so anxious to share our events that we decided to give you a sneak peek!*
Ghost of the Bayou | May 22 – September 7
White alligators are extremely rare. From the Louisiana Bayou, these creatures are thought to be mystical, bringing good fortune to those who set eyes on them. We can’t say for sure if that’s true, but we invite you to visit this summer and find out for yourself…
Dino Days | June 27 & 28
Join us for an entire weekend dedicated to dinosaurs. Paleontologist and dinosaur enthusiast “Dr. Dino” (AKA Chris DeLorey of the Brevard Zoo, FL) will be here to show off his extensive fossil collection and take guests on a special dino hunt! Fun activities, prehistoric artifacts, and animatronic dinosaurs–mark your calendars for this DINO-mite event!
Wine & Design: Paint for Conservation | July 11
On its own, Wine & Design is a great way to spend time with family & friends, paint a beautiful picture, and relax with a glass of wine (or two). This summer, we’re excited to pair the Wine & Design experience with a great cause: frog conservation.
Frogs are disappearing at an alarming rate, and this event will raise awareness and funds for the global amphibian crisis. Guests can paint a picture showcasing these beautiful creatures, then walk through our Exhibit Gallery to admire them in person. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to the AZA Amphibian Conservation Grant Fund, which supports amphibian-related conservation as well as scientific and educational initiatives.
Much of this event is still being planned, but we hope you’ll consider attending to help support this worthy cause (and enjoy a beautiful evening at the zoo)! We will post more information as soon as possible, but tickets should be on sale by late May.
*Event details subject to change
In the mean time, until Spring actually arrives, keep warm!
(Our Winter Warm-Ups are perfect for getting out of the cold…hint, hint)
Sick of giving the same old flowers and candy to your special someone? Why not give from the heart with these Valentine’s Day gifts that give back?
We carry countless fair trade items from around the world, but we think the Brass Images line is especially exquisite, making it a great gift for Valentine’s Day (or any occasion…like a Tuesday).
Based in South Africa, Brass Images produces handcrafted brass and copper jewelry. Artisans apply high heat to these metals to produce ruby red copper and antiqued brass finishes without the use of paints or dyes. Gemstone accents add a colorful touch to the beautiful ethnic designs. These pieces have a unique yet polished look that can be dressed up or down and are sure to make a statement this Valentine’s day–because nothing says, “I Love You” like gorgeous jewelry that supports artisans in South Africa!
Note: the beautiful metal leaf sculpture featured in these photos is also for sale!