Celebrate Wildlife at Grandfather Mountain’s Animal Birthday Party Festivities Today

Published Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

Whether you have fur or feathers, scales or skin, Grandfather Mountain’s Animal Birthday Party on Wednesday, June 17 will offer exciting activities designed to excite and delight.

Aspen GM

Aspen the cougar guards his plastic egg toy, one of several items that generous contributors have donated to the Grandfather Mountain habitat animals. The animals will have a combined Animal Birthday Party on June 17 with events, activities and treats for both the animals and their human visitors. Kellen Short, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

The Animal Birthday Party includes a full day of special events designed to honor the black bears, bald eagle, deer, river otters and cougar that call Grandfather Mountain home. Most activities are included with park admission.

“This is a great way to celebrate all of the habitat animals, from our oldest bear, Gerry, at 26 years old, to our youngest otter, Oscar, who’s just over a year old,” said Animal Habitats Curator Christie Tipton. “We want to use this day to thank the animals for all they do to enrich our lives and to educate people about our native wildlife.”

Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Nature Museum, kids can make animal birthday cards and participate in a “Test Your Animal Knowledge” Contest.

From 10:30 a.m. to noon, a Behind-the-Scenes Habitat Tour will be offered at a reduced rate of $20 per person. Guests can see where the cougars and otters sleep overnight, meet black bears not usually on display, observe a training session and learn more about why each animal lives at Grandfather Mountain. Space is limited, so the Behind-the-Scenes tours must be booked in advance by calling 828-733-8715 or registering in the Nature Museum on June 17.

At 11 a.m., visitors can join in “The Thicket Game” at the Let it Rain Picnic Shelter. At 12:30 p.m., staff members will host a Keeper Talk inside the Nature Museum with some of the educational animals, which include snakes, owls, an opossum and a skunk!

At 1 p.m., an interactive activity will be held outside the Fudge Shop to introduce guests to the different types of animals that live on Grandfather Mountain. Free birthday cake will be available from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fudge Shop.

At 1:30 p.m., join the habitat staff to make birthday enrichments for the animals at the Let it Rain Picnic Shelter. Help decorate the bears’ birthday cake or prepare a homemade toy for the cougar.

The final activity of the day begins at 2:15 p.m. when winners of the “Test Your Animal Knowledge” Contest are announced in the Nature Museum. The winner, along with one family member, wins a free behind-the-scenes visit with one of the animals.

Immediately after the announcement, visitors can head to the habitats to watch the animals receive their birthday enrichments. Visit grandfather.com for the full schedule.

Grandfather Mountain also offers several other ways friends of the animals can help improve their lives.

The nonprofit park now offers an Amazon.com Wish List outlining toys and supplies that are appropriate for the Grandfather Mountain habitat animals. Donors can choose a gift for their favorite animal, purchase online and have it delivered straight to Grandfather Mountain for immediate enjoyment by the animal residents. The list of suggested items is available at bit.ly/GMAmazonWishlist.

Animal lovers also can contribute through the Grandfather Mountain Adopt-an-Animal Program. Honorary adopters receive a photo of their animal, certificate of adoption, informational sheet about the animal’s life and additional items at higher donation levels, including a plush animal, cast of an animal footprint, day pass to Grandfather Mountain, note cards or behind-the-scenes visit with the adopted animal. Adoption levels range from $25 to $300. More information is available online at bit.ly/GManimaladoption.

The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call 800-468-7325 or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.

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