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Published: Monday, 6/2/2014 - Updated: 3 months ago

ROAD TO RECOVERY

Children get chance to meet local wildlife

Rescue group brings creatures Toledo Botanical Garden

BY MAYA AVERBUCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Seraphina Zolciak, 3, extends her finger to pet a corn snake as her sister Olivia Zolciak, 7, back, watches at the Toledo Botanical Garden. The Wild about Wildlife event was held on Sunday. Seraphina Zolciak, 3, extends her finger to pet a corn snake as her sister Olivia Zolciak, 7, back, watches at the Toledo Botanical Garden. The Wild about Wildlife event was held on Sunday.
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Perched on the gloved arm of a Nature’s Nursery Center volunteer, a great horned owl watched the crowd of children and adults at the Toledo Botanical Garden. Natalie Miller pointed out his sharp talons, the eponymous feather tufts on either side of his head, and his quarter-sized yellow eyes as she held onto the bird’s leash.

Participants on Sunday feel the wing of a great horned owl like the one named Icarus. Participants on Sunday feel the wing of a great horned owl like the one named Icarus.
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“We think somebody found him when he was a baby,” she said, describing the telltale signs of his captivity, including a strange preference for only white mice.

From left, Laylay Upchurch, 3, Nicole Frederick, Kyleigh Yelverton, 5, and Jayce Yelverton, 8, look at a Virginia Opossum as Jennifer Yelverton takes a picture on her cell phone Sunday during Wild about Wildlife held at the Toledo Botanical Garden. From left, Laylay Upchurch, 3, Nicole Frederick, Kyleigh Yelverton, 5, and Jayce Yelverton, 8, look at a Virginia Opossum as Jennifer Yelverton takes a picture on her cell phone Sunday during Wild about Wildlife held at the Toledo Botanical Garden.
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Icarus — as the owl is tragically called — is one of the many rehabilitated animals Nature’s Nursery showcased at Sunday’s Wild about Wildlife event. The annual fund-raiser is intended to familiarize the public with some of the 3,000 animals from Northwest Ohio the nonprofit cares for each year.

PHOTO GALLERY: Wild for Wildlife

Natalie Miller talks to a group while handling a male American kestrel, the smallest falcon in North America. Natalie Miller talks to a group while handling a male American kestrel, the smallest falcon in North America.
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“A lot of people know what’s at the zoo but not what’s in their backyards,” said Laura Zitzelberger, the operations director, while standing near a furry opossum, a western box turtle, and an upside-down bat named Bruce Wayne.

Families walked around the informational tables, touching detached bird wings and empty tortoise shells, as volunteers answered questions about everything from the animals’ feeding habits to the kind of bird that would attack a household pet.

The organization releases 60 percent of the sick, injured, or orphaned animals it brings to the Blue Creek Conservation Area in Whitehouse. It designates the more personable of the remainder for educational purposes, and euthanizes the rest that cannot survive in the wild.

Mark Gorey, one of the attendees, said his favorite animal on display was by the barn owl, because of its “unique, strange face.” Three-year-old Quinn Slaman, who played on the grass beside him, said she preferred the corn snake, which she was able to touch.

Sponsors, food vendors, and other nature groups set up tables throughout the garden, often with accompanying kid-friendly activities.

Candee Ellsworth, Nature’s Nursery executive director, said the most popular tasks included making makeshift bee nests out of cardboard and bundles of reeds, and imitating bird adaptation by trying to pick up small objects with tools such as tongs and spoons.

“The crafts attracted attention to the environmental issues,” said Laura Schetter, a third-grade teacher at Wildwood Environmental Academy. She showed people how to attach colored pipe cleaners and pine cones to strings to hang in their windows to prevent migratory birds from flying into the glass.

With more than 400 people in attendance, this year’s fund-raiser was the most popular one to date, Ms. Ellsworth said.

Contact Maya Averbuch at: maverbuch@theblade.com or 419-724-6522.



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