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Grandfather Mountain’s Animal Birthday Party Returns June 12

Nova, a North American river otter, enjoys the spoils of the hunt — fresh-caught fish from her pond — during a recent Animal Birthday Party. The annual celebration of all the environmental wildlife habitat animals returns to Grandfather Mountain Wednesday, June 12. Photo by Frank Ruggiero | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation

This June, visitors to Grandfather Mountain will be able to meet some true party animals.

On Wednesday, June 12, the Linville, N.C., nature park will host its annual Animal Birthday Party, a day of celebration and special events designed to honor the black bears, bald eagles, river otters, cougars and elk that call Grandfather Mountain home.

Most activities are included with regular admission to Grandfather Mountain.

“This is a great way to celebrate all of the habitat animals, from our oldest bear, Gerry, at 30 years old, to Uno, our youngest river otter, who’s only 2,” said Christie Tipton, animal habitats curator for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the park. “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.”

From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., young guests and their parents can celebrate with games, contests, crafts and other surprises — including making special birthday treats for the birthday animals, which they’ll get to see the animals enjoy later that day.

Plus, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, guests can enjoy Behind-the-Scenes Tours at a special discounted rate of $20 per person. These tours offer guests the chance to get up close and personal with Grandfather’s many animals, while learning how the keepers care for them on a daily basis.

Those interested in Behind-the-Scenes Tours can register the day of at the Nature Museum gift shop or beforehand by contacting the Grandfather Mountain habitats office at 828-733-8715 or habitats@grandfather.com.

 “The animals tend to get very excited about their special day,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications. “They can definitely sense that we’ve got some special birthday presents in store for them.”

Birthday Gifts

Want to send the animals a more personal gift?

Grandfather Mountain has an Amazon.com wish list, featuring toys and supplies that are appropriate for its resident animals. Donors can choose a gift for their favorite animal, purchase it online and have it delivered straight to Grandfather Mountain for immediate enjoyment by its furry or feathered recipient.

The list of suggested items is available at http://bit.ly/GMAmazonWishlist.

Animal lovers also can contribute through the mountain’s 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. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2sYbaIm.

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.

Smokey, a black bear, enjoys a ‘bearthday’ cake during a previous Animal Birthday Party at Grandfather Mountain. The celebration will take place again this year on Wednesday, June 12. Photo by Frank Ruggiero | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation