On November 19th shoppers in the south hills of Pittsburgh were in for a “wild” treat while shopping in The Galleria at Mt. Lebanon.  The Animal Rescue League (ARL) hosted their Wildlife Tea, an awareness and educational event for their Wildlife Center.  The site which specializes in the care and treatment of injured, orphaned, and ill native Pennsylvania wildlife had some of their staff on hand to provide fun, informational activities for the entire family.

“The community relies on the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center as a resource to care for animals both wild and domestic,” said Jill Argall, Director of the Wildlife Center.  “However we are equally committed to educating the public on the interesting and unknown behaviors of animals.”  The Wildlife Center located in Verona, maintains more than 10 permits and licenses with state and federal agencies for their work to rescue, rehabilitate and release indigenous animals, basically running a full time ER for wildlife.  Promoting habitat protection and coexistence through education is a key part of their mission.

The most important members of ARL’s team – their animal ambassadors, which cannot live in the wild for any number of medical reasons. Instead, they join the ARL Humane Education staff to teach people of all ages about their wild cousins. It is a unique opportunity to see animals in person that many Pittsburghers may not otherwise have the chance to see.  They also help the ARL in the educational programs they provide on-site or off-site at schools and other community organization locations.  “Most presentations last approximately an hour long,” said Jill “and will also include a visit with a live animal. In addition, all of the programs we provide can be tailored to meet the needs of any group.”

The four hour event which began at 1:00 in the afternoon featured four separate twenty minute presentations kicking off each hour.  Guests also enjoyed light refreshments, a goodie grab bag and activities such as a children’s coloring contest.  The educational break-outs included the following:

  • Circles of Life featuring Turtles & Box Turtles at 1:00 pm led by Meaghan Wallace
    • All living things, big and small, go through various stages of life. Plants start as tiny seeds, and frogs are tadpoles before they can survive on land. Learn how organisms develop and mature over the course of their life cycle, and what it takes for a species to keep their population thriving.
  • Wildlife Rehab 101 featuring Twitch the Gray Squirrel at 2:00 pm led by Jill Argall
    • Learn what it takes to be a Wildlife Rehabilitator in the state of Pennsylvania. Meet an expert that will take you through the animals we care for and all that goes in to preparing sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for release back into the wild
  • Preparing for Winter featuring Bruce the Big Brown Bat at 3:00 pm led by Alexis Fitzgerald
    • Did you ever wonder what animals do when it gets cold outside? A snake would look pretty silly in a coat, and they certainly don’t make boots big enough for bears. So how DO animals survive winter? This program teaches all about how native Pennsylvania animals make it through the cold months.
  • Build a Better World featuring Quail at 4:00 pm led by Alexis Fitzgerald
    • We share planet Earth with thousands of different organisms. From microbes to raccoons, everything plays a role in keeping the world healthy. This program will show you how the animals in Pennsylvania are making the world a better place, as well as what we can do to make sure we protect it for future generations.

Attendees that were “wild” about the programs were encouraged to learn more about ARL’s other educational topics or consider attending ARL’s half-day winter camps for children in kindergarten through sixth grade on December 28-30.   “These are fun, filled days of learning,” said Jill.  “Kids play games, explore the natural habitats on our campus, participate in wildlife themed lessons and activities and make unique crafts.”  Registration now to participate.