Homeschool field trips are always an adventure and this one was no different. My youngest son, Chase, is home schooled here in Reno, NV. The NNHS (Northern Nevada Home School) group is very active. The parents plan several field trips and get togethers every week that we can pick and choose from. Check out their site at www.NNHS.org for more info. The other day we went on a field trip to the Animal Ark – a non-profit wildlife sanctuary and education center. They provide a safe haven for injured, abandoned and otherwise non-releasable wildlife. It’s located in north Reno about 30-45 minutes from town. You can check them out at www.animalark.org.
Living in Reno, there’s always a chance of running into a mountain lion while hiking or just while walking your dogs around the neighborhood. I never knew they could climb trees! They are the most deadly animals in Northern Nevada and seeing this made them seem even more terrifying than I already thought they were. Hearing that the reason he was in the tree was because he was scared because a school bus had just pulled into the parking lot did make me feel a little bit better. Glad to know there’s SOMETHING mountain lions are afraid of.
On a lighter note, their resident raccoon was very playful and put on a great show for us. This was his famous raccoon yoga pose. He started by standing on his hind legs, bending at the waste and putting his head through his legs. As you can see, his feet never left the ground. He was just as comfortable as could be just grabbing the fence above and hanging out. Quite the character!
This little guy was so adorable. We all wanted to take him home. According to Animal Ark, he was sold on Craigslist twice before being surrendered to them. Several of the animals who now call Animal Ark their home started out as family pets. Apparently, fox are terrible pets. You can’t house train them and they chew EVERYTHING!
When we arrived at the jaguar enclosure, he was just relaxing and calmly watching us. This photo of the jaguar was taken just minutes after he rushed the glass viewing booth in attack mode with mouth wide open. We were told there’s an Animal Ark trainer he’s not particularly fond of and she happened to walk by while we were there. That was probably his big thrill for the day – and ours too.
To me the lynx is such an exotic, mysterious animal. It’s face looks like one of the characters in Cats the musical with it’s tiny, pointed ears and beard. The lynx’s body seems too big for it’s head. The feet alone are just enormous compared with other cats the same size. The tail is naturally bobbed. I don’t remember what this animal’s background is but seeing him made the trip. There is another Lynx at Animal Ark as well that is bigger than this one, but he is shy and stayed in the back of his enclosure, where this one walked right by us several times.
Animal Ark has four wolves. There is an older, one-eyed male whose sister died just around the time three baby wolves were sent to them. There are twins (this is one of them) and a black one named Shadow. The twins are submissive to the older male, so they alternate days in the large enclosure. Then the one-eyed male and Shadow take their turn together since they seem to get along. Wolves don’t live in the wild in Nevada. Although the state has been tracking one lone wolf that recently has entered through either California or Oregon.
Something Nevada does have plenty of are coyotes. In fact, the day after we visited Animal Ark, we saw one sauntering through our neighborhood in the middle of the day. They usually come around at night and we can hear them howling. As you can see, the wolf and the coyote look very similar.
There were several other types of animals such as bears, cheeta, owls, hawks, a vulture, turtles, etc. This is just a sample of what you’ll see if you visit. Spring is a great time to visit Animal Ark. The weather is cool/cold, all of the animals are out and about and there are no bad odors like their might be during the warmer times of year. If you decide to go, picnic lunches are recommended since there isn’t a restaurant for miles. Wear good walking shoes because you’ll be walking a lot on gravel paths. For those unable to walk, they have golf carts available for a donation.