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Public is introduced to local wildlife in “Eco Critters”



Lewistown, Montana – You don’t encounter snakes every day, but on Saturday, ZooMontana surprised American Prairie with a scaly visitor.

American Prairie and ZooMontana collaborated to enable the public to discover more about some of the local species that they see every day.

The creatures in question were an eastern screech owl named Scout and a plains hognose snake named Wilbur. Both creatures are indigenous to Montana.

ZooMontana educators provided information about the animals and demonstrated how visitors might engage with them safely.

Fernanda Mora, one of the event’s education leads, believes that what they do has a significant effect on individuals who come.

“We are the only zoo within Montana, so it is nice to be able to bring a little bit of the zoo all over the place. So, we think it serves great educational purposes so the public can learn about the native Montana wildlife and also to give them an interaction with live animals that are prepared to meet them,” Mora said.

Scout and Wilbur serve as the Zoo’s ambassador animals and have received special training to interact with and instruct visitors.

For the people to have a greater awareness of the natural world, Brooke Tucker, another Education Lead at ZooMontana, thinks that close encounters with animals are essential.

“It’s really hard to care about things that you don’t know a lot about, and the best way to learn about something is to see it in person,” Tucker said. “That gives you a better chance to connect with that animal, watch their behaviors, watch their interactions with humans and be able to explore that animal and learn firsthand that animals’ personalities. Animals are all individuals just like us, so that allows people to connect better with them.”

In order to provide more people the chance to participate and learn, ZooMontana seeks to expand the reach of initiatives like “Eco Critters.”