GRAY — There may be some snow in the shade and the parking lot may be a bit soft and some of the nature trails aren’t open, but the Maine Wildlife Park will open for the season Friday, April. 15.
Last year more than 104,000 people visited the park.
New this year are six new small mammal exhibits featuring porcupines, fisher, woodchuck, raccoon, skunk and opossum. Under construction this year is a new mountain lion exhibit, funded by the Friends of the Maine Wildlife Park.
The free, guided audio tour of the park’s exhibits accessible via visitor’s own personal cell phones has been updated for 2011. Last year, more than 7,100 people dialed in to hear more about our wildlife. After dialing the access number, 207-228-1700, a short recording gives fun wildlife facts, information and history about the individual animal(s) visitors are watching. The only charge is based on the minutes plan with the cell phone service provider.
The kick-off day for the summer event schedule is May 7, with a Bear Bonanza! Full-size mounts of a black bear and grizzly bear will be exhibited, and there will even a polar bear rug and other polar artifacts. Bear mascots Kennebago Bear and Smokey Bear will be available for photo “opps”! A Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife bear biologist will have the “tools of the trade” used to manage Maine’s black bear population, and chain saw artist Tim Picket will be chain-saw carving a bear from a 10-foot tall standing white pine tree trunk right in the picnic area.
The Maine Wildlife Park is owned and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. It exists to promote an understanding and awareness of the wildlife, conservation and habitat protection programs and projects of MDIFW.
A series of wildlife exhibits and demonstrations are planned for the summer season, and a night visit is scheduled July 16 for a talk and demonstration on owls, and Halloween Fest is scheduled Friday and Saturday, Oct. 21-22.
The Maine Wildlife Park has more than 30 species of native wildlife on display, plus wildlife gardens, nature trails, a fish hatchery and other interactive exhibits and displays. The park is open daily from April 15-Nov. 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; visitors must leave the premises by 6 p.m.
Admission is free for ages 3 and under; $5 ages 5-12; $7 for adults, and $5 for seniors. Groups of 15 or more are $3.50 per person. Family and community season passes are available.