LETHBRIDGE – Animals from owls to spiders, and even a kangaroo took over Exhibition Park on the weekend for the annual Wildlife Festival tour.
Canadian Raptor Conservancy bird handler and educator Matthew Morgan said the festival aims to bring wildlife educational demonstration right to people’s home towns.
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“They don’t have to go far away to find it, they can have it in a nice, safe, controlled environment for both people and the animals,” Morgan said. “They can both get entertained and educated about a lot of the animals that are often right in your own backyard.”
Some of those animals included snakes and bird species from Canada, as well as other exotic animals. Little Rays Repitle Zoo educator Kyle Laurie said he was hoping to teach responsible pet ownership. Laurie said most of the animals at the show are often purchased as family or exotic pets, and later given up.
“Basically 80 to 90 per cent of our animals are unwanted pets,” Laurie said. “We don’t take any of our animals from the wild.”
While most of the excitement and educational information was about the animals you don’t see everyday, organizers were hoping to teach children and families little things they can do to save wildlife at home.
One of the biggest predators in Canada may be living closer than you think, Laurie said.
“A lot of people have house cats at home, and they don’t realize that their house cats are basically little ninjas. They go outside and they hunt birds, and there’s nothing wrong with the cat; it’s just their instinct.”
“When your cat goes outside, in Canada they’re killing about 300 million songbirds a year. By simply putting a bell on your cat, it will actually save the birds in the wild.”
There are other small things you can do at home to help animals in the wild, like saving up to 22 litres of fresh water per person, per day, by shutting off the taps when brushing your teeth. But, these tasks are often easy to forget. That’s where the up-close-and-personal interaction with the animals at the show proves beneficial.
“Suddenly they get like, ‘oh wow that was so close, that was so cool!’ and then they start listening, and start paying attention, and they start to take away a few things,” Morgan said. “I’ve had quite a few kids that come up and say, ‘oh, I remember you from last year, I remember some of the things you said.’ So, obviously they are taking away something, and that’s really fantastic. That means we’re doing a good job.”
Wildlife Festival teaches how to help animals thrive