Wildlife Festival an interactive extravaganza

Wildlife festival an interactive extravaganza

Two-year-old Cheyenne Cruickshank of Delhi takes the opportunity to touch a Virginia opossum named Claire, held by Nicole Countway of Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue on Sunday during the Norfolk Wildlife Festival and Adventure Show at the Aud in Simcoe. Brian Thompson / The Expositor

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Nine-year-old Kira Bilodeau drew back the string of a compound bow with the look of a seasoned archer.

“I’ve done archery before at a little camp,” the Eden, Ontario youngster said after letting the arrow fly at a stack of targets several metres away on Sunday afternoon. She was trying her hand at the Delhi Archery Club’s interactive display at the 17th annual Norfolk Wildlife and Adventure Show at the Aud in Simcoe.

Four-year-old Emma Van Daele of Courtland seems to enjoy holding a corn snake at the Nature’s Calling Environmental Education display on Sunday during the Norfolk Wildlife Festival and Adventure Show at the Aud in Simcoe. Brian Thompson / The Expositor

“It’s really cool, I love all the animals,” Bilodeau exclaimed. “I’ve seen donkeys and bunnies, baby chicks.”

Snakes, rabbits, goats, llamas and birds of prey were also on display for people to get an up-close look, and in most cases, feel.

Nicole Countway of the Soper Creek Wildlife Rescue in Bowmanville held a Virginia opossum named Claire, as families lined up for the chance to stroke the back of the little creature.

“We treated Claire for frost bite, but the veterinarian determined she also has vision problems,” Countway said. “So she is unreleasable, but instead has become an animal ambassador.”

Licensed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Canadian Wildlife Services, the rescue operation rehabilitates injured, ill or orphaned wildlife in the Durham region, with the aim to release the animals back to their habitat once healthy.

Nature’s Calling Environmental Education also had a line-up at their booth on Sunday afternoon, where children waited for the chance to have a corn snake wrapped around their neck like a necklace.

A llama mugs for the camera on Sunday during the Norfolk Wildlife Festival and Adventure Show at the Aud in Simcoe. Brian Thompson / The Expositor

Four-year-old Emma Van Daele of Courtland beamed with delight as the bronze-coloured serpent slithered across her hands and up her arm.

“We came by to pet the snakes earlier, and returned to hold it,” said her mother Alycia.

There were plenty of other activities that didn’t involve living, breathing creatures.

The wildlife show is sponsored by the Norfolk County Fair. The fair’s publicity and marketing co-ordinator Wendy Brick praised the show’s exhibitors for their educational and interactive quality.

“You can learn what kind of animal tracks are in the forest, and the actual scat, what it looks like,” said Brick.

A scavenger hunt was also set up with 12 stations. Children went to each one, completed a task or answered a question from what they learned, and were given a stamp. Once completed, a ballot could be entered in a draw for prizes.

A number of small posters were also hidden throughout the displays at the Aud, bearing the footprints of different animals. Children had to identify the tracks from a reference chart, and after answering all ten correctly, could claim a prize from a treasure chest.

“It keeps them going,” Brick said. “They can spend hours doing different things.”

Six-year-old Kyleigh White of Simcoe scales a rock climbing wall with little difficulty on Sunday during the Norfolk Wildlife Festival and Adventure Show at the Aud in Simcoe. Brian Thompson / The Expositor

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