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Western North Carolina Nature Center Species List and Review (Jan 2020)

Discussion in 'United States' started by Coelacanth18, 14 Jan 2020.

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  1. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    My first zoo trip of the year was to this very small collection of almost entirely native species in the Blue Ridge Mountains, on the outskirts of Asheville. I have here listed every species for which there was signage; I did not see any unsigned species. The review will be a second post.

    Outdoors
    American Black Bear
    Bobcat
    Puma
    Red Wolf
    Gray Wolf
    Coyote
    Common Raccoon
    Gray Fox
    Red Fox
    Red Panda (non-native)
    North American River Otter
    White-tailed Deer

    Turkey Vulture
    Red-tailed Hawk
    Great Horned Owl
    Barn Owl

    Appalachian Station (Indoors)
    Least Weasel

    Eastern Garter Snake
    Rough Green Snake
    Corn Snake
    Black Rat Snake
    Northern Pine Snake
    Timber Rattler
    Copperhead
    Carolina Anole
    Eastern Box Turtle
    Eastern Mud Turtle
    Eastern Musk Turtle
    Painted Turtle
    Spotted Turtle
    Common Snapping Turtle

    Hellbender
    Marbled Salamander
    Spotted Salamander
    Eastern Red-bellied Newt
    Gray Tree Frog
    American Green Tree Frog
    Spring Peeper
    American Toad

    Rainbow Trout

    Black Ant (native)
    Fire Ant (non-native, introduced and invasive)

    Species on Exhibit: 42

    Mammals: 13
    Birds: 4
    Reptiles: 14
    Amphibians: 8
    Fish: 1
    Invertebrates: 2
     
    Breckenridge and nczoofan like this.
  2. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Interesting choice for the one animal that does not occur in North Carolina...
     
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  3. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    The Western North Carolina Nature Center is a small but very pleasant facility, located on a wooded campus adjacent the Swannanoa River. I toured it in 90 minutes at a very leisurely pace, but an average visit without children could easily take an hour or less. The only noteworthy species I saw was least weasel, a rare mustelid that I have not seen in captivity elsewhere. The outdoor exhibits are more or less situated along a mile-long loop through a wooded hillside, with a view of the river and road on the lower side and split-level views of some enclosures. The indoor exhibits are all located in a small but well-stocked building with two rooms called the Appalachian Station. The only species here not present in the U.S. is red panda, in a new exhibit built last year. Besides the wild animals, there is also a barn and farm yard with donkeys, sheep, goats, and chickens; a native turtle pond and songbird garden; a nature trail; and play areas for kids. The Center also has bird and bat houses installed across its campus and ample educational signage for helping local wildlife. It also has several signs touting its coveted status as an AZA accredited facility.

    The enclosures, on the whole, are simple but spacious. A single deer* held dominion over two massive yards and a smaller side yard, with a footprint larger than given to some giraffe herds at other zoos. The bears also have a spacious enclosure with a climbing structure and pool. The birds are held in a row of average-looking aviaries, while above a two-part river otter exhibit features four viewing windows (two underwater), a rock grotto with a pool, a grassy yard, and a tube passage allowing the otter pair to move freely between them. Meanwhile, the long wooded loop is home to the Center's native carnivore collection, with fantastic wolf and coyote yards that feature chain link and glass viewing windows, and smaller enclosures for bobcat, cougar, raccoons, and foxes. The new red panda habitat is decent, but somewhat disappointing; it doesn't have a lot of climbing opportunities for the arboreal species, and feels a bit small for two animals. Nevertheless, they have a cub-rearing space in the holding shed, so hopefully they will have breeding success soon.

    The Appalachian Station houses the aforementioned weasel along with the Center's herp collection, represented by a dozen species of turtles and snakes and several amphibians. The enclosures aren't noteworthy, and the building's theming is minimal.

    The facility created a very ambitious master plan for 2020 a decade ago. Little of it has seen enactment so far, especially in terms of added species. It called for sandhill cranes, elk and bison, bald eagles, and a range of South American and Asian species to be added, along with a new indoor building with a nocturnal hall and more themed microhabitat exhibits. So far, the only species gained from that master plan are the red pandas. Hopefully, the facility will find the funds to at least add more native species; there is room to expand, although it would have to be taken from standing forest.

    The Blue Ridge Mountains and city of Asheville are a great travel destination; if you ever find yourself here, might as well take an hour or two out of a day to come visit. Admission is currently $11 for adults, which is somewhat expensive but is understandable if they are trying to make a lot of infrastructural changes and additions.

    *Fun fact: the Center's white-tailed deer was trained in order to appear in a couple scenes of the 2017 film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which was filmed in the area.
     
  4. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    They are the first part of a planned expansion similar to Elephant Odyssey, where they showcase modern animals from other continents to compare with prehistoric native species. In this case, fossils of a large red panda relative called Bristol's panda were found an hour north of the Center. The exhibit was built last year; the rest of the expansion is not yet built and I'm not sure what the plan is for the next phase.
     
  5. drill

    drill Well-Known Member

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    it's Weasel and everything else.
     
  6. redpanda756

    redpanda756 Well-Known Member

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    They have red pandas because they are related to a prehistoric species that lived in the area.