Posted by: JulieAloha | June 12, 2017

365 Gratitude Project – Day 163: Earn Your Wings at the Wildlife Theater

June 12, 2017

Over the winter and Spring I’ve watched with curiosity as the Raptor Center got a facelift. They removed the old seats and plants as well as the fence and some of the yard. They dug down into the ground to lay a grid for new concrete slabs for the three new sets of bleachers and pathways. Over time they installed the seating, placed a wall of bamboo along the backs of the stands, added perches and plantings and a new almost invisible fencing along the front of the exhibit. 

Last month the Wildlife Theater made its debut with the all new “Earn Your Wings” program which incorporates all kinds of raptors from Harris and red-tail hawks to spectacled owl, a turkey vulture and (my favorite) Lola the aplomado falcon. The most recent additions to the cast are two pot bellied pigs, Annabelle and Bailey, who try hard throughout the show to join the flight show and earn their wings. When pigs fly… 😏

The demonstrations give the keepers the opportunity to teach about the animals, how they hunt, how they live and coexist with people, and what we can do to help preserve them in the wild. The birds fly all over the yard, over the audience’s heads to perches right inside or above the stands and one audience member is picked to wear a falconer’s glove for Lola to land on their arm. The animals are never forced to do anything they choose not to, they are all encouraged to exhibit natural behaviors through positive reinforcement – sometimes they miss a cue or fly the wrong direction, but the keepers just carry on with the show. It’s a great way to teach about these beautiful animals and give people an up close experience they’ll never forget.

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