Saturday, Dec 10, 2016
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Wide eyes greet wildlife at Perrysburg children's program

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Back to the Wild staff supervisor Heather Yount shows an Eastern Screech-Owl to children at a program at the Perrysburg Recreation Center.

The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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Jack Cygnor, 8, sat with his legs crossed and wide eyed like about 20 other children in the Municipal Park building on Friday as he watched Heather Yount of the Back to the Wild carry around a red-tailed hawk. 

A bald eagle, barred owl, barn owl, huge African leopard tortoise, box turtle, snake, and other animals were on display for the children. It was a part of the annual animal camp that Back to the Wild runs to introduce children to wildlife.

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view slideshow.

“We do it to get the word out about wildlife, and since 90 percent of the animals we get are from human causes, we want to help teach the younger generation to take better care of the planet,” said Ms. Yount. “It is our responsibility. And we want to show that nature can be fun and amazing, too.”

Jack said he enjoyed all the animals and wasn‘‍t scared of any of them. While the bald eagle was his favorite, he liked the snakes a lot, too.

“I didn’‍t know that the beautiful butterflies were poisonous,” he said, explaining one fact he learned from the program.

Several animal facts were shared, including that eagle nests can be 2,000 pounds and that owls can turn their necks 270 degrees and hear mouses 300 yards away. 

The bald eagle shown is 22 years old and blind because it contracted the West Nile virus from a mosquito in 2003, at which point Back to the Wild took him in. Back to the Wild is a non-profit wildlife rehabilitation and nature education center in Castalia, Ohio.

The African leopard tortoise had a disfigured shell which Ms. Yount said was the result of his previous owner feeding the animal hot dogs and dog food when it is a vegetarian by nature.  

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.

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