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Asheville Affiliates Host: Mountain Safari – Party at the Nature Center

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – Please join the Asheville Affiliates and the Friends of the WNC Nature Center for a one-of-a-kind social adventure! Dress in your best safari gear (those in safari attire will be entered into a special raffle) and party with the animals.

The evening festivities include live entertainment and special animal encounters.  You will enjoy wonderful food generously donated by Azalea Cafe, Chili’s, Fig, Magnetic Field, The Marketplace & Mellow Mushroom!  Thirsts will be quenched thanks to donations from Catawba Valley Brewing Company and Turning Leaf Vineyards. We will also have an auction and raffle to raise funds for projects at the Nature Center like a permanent butterfly exhibit, new visitor center and new animal exhibits.

Tickets are only $25 in advance and will be $30 at the door.

To order your tickets online via PayPal (and pick them up at Will Call on the day of the event), click the link below:

Order Tickets


Oceans of Change Event Coming to the WNC Nature Center on March 12th

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Western North Carolina Nature Center will host a one-day program called “Oceans of Change” on Saturday, March 12, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The program highlights the climatological impacts on marine organisms like shrimp, fish and whales. Explore the various educational stations with hands-on challenges, touch live marine specimens, and visit our immersion theater. Craft activities, mini-lectures and games will be presented throughout the day.  Participation in the program is included in the price of admission to the WNC Nature Center. Program activities are appropriate for all ages.

Support for the program’s exhibits, activities, and giveaways is provided by Asheville Aquarium, Rainbow Recycling, the NC Aquarium in Fort Fisher, the NC Museum of Natural History in Raleigh and NOAA.

The Nature Center is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and welcomes over 100,000 visitors annually.

For more information, contact Keith Mastin, Education Curator of the Western North Carolina Nature Center, at 828-298-5600, extension 305.

Western North Carolina Nature Center Open Thanksgiving Weekend

Friday, November 26th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The Western North Carolina Nature Center will be open to guests Thanksgiving weekend beginning 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 26.

“The day after Thanksgiving is a great time to visit the Nature Center” says Chris Gentile, the center’s director, “friends and family are visiting Asheville and are looking for something fun to do and to walk off that big meal from the day before!”  Gentile says that the day after Thanksgiving is usually a very well attended day at other zoos and aquariums throughout the Southeast.  The Center will be open during regular hours 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Western North Carolina Nature Center features over 250 animals native to the Southern Appalachians including red wolves, otters, birds of prey, black bears, and reptiles.  The Nature Center is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and welcomes over 100,000 visitors annually.

For more information, contact Chris Gentile, Director of the Western North Carolina Nature Center, at 828-298-5600 or visit  http://www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/ParksRCA/default.aspx?id=13314.

Butterflies return to WNC Nature Center on Saturday

Friday, June 25th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The summer will see the WNC Nature Center hosting more than 20 species of butterflies and moths for the center’s highly-anticipated Beauty of the Butterfly exhibit. The exhibit opens on Saturday, June 26 as part of the center’s Nectar Collector Day and will run through August 24.

The popular exhibit allows WNC Nature Center visitors to wander through a hoop-house, coming in close contact with blooming flowers and several hundred butterflies. This is the 7th year the exhibit has appeared at the center, and an estimated 30,000 people visit each season, says Eli Strull, the center’s Education Specialist.

Butterflies on display in the exhibit come from actual butterfly farmers in other parts of the county, mostly in Texas and Florida. While the WNC Nature Center is permitted to keep the specimens in the display area, it is not allowed to release them into the wild.

This will be the last year the exhibit takes place in the temporary hoop-house, as next summer will see the opening of a permanent exhibit area at the center. The new exhibit area is made possible by a $45,000 donation by the Friends of the WNC Nature Center, and will be located above the turtle pond that is currently under construction.

The new, larger exhibit will allow visitors to wander a loop trail and spend more time with the butterflies, and will open in the summer of 2011. While the butterflies will still appear seasonally, the trail itself will be home to many plants that attract the flying insects.

The June 26 opening of this year’s exhibit will coincide with Nectar Collector Day, which will celebrate the importance on nectar collecting animals as well as provide fun activities, crafts, games and food.

“We’ll talk about the life cycle of the butterfly, why pollination is so important and what we can do to help,” Strull said.

For information on this and other exhibits and events at the WNC Nature Center, call (828) 298-5600 or visit http://www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/ParksRCA/default.aspx?id=13314.

The WNC Nature Center’s mission is to increase public awareness and understanding of the natural environment of Western North Carolina. Featuring over 150 animals including otters, black bear and red wolf, the Center is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.

Center is operated by the City of Asheville and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

WNC Nature Center Begins Renovations on Popular Turtle Exhibit

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – One of the most popular exhibits at the Western North Carolina Nature Center is about to go through an extensive renovation. For over 20 years, the turtle pond has looked pretty much the same and has provided an excellent opportunity for guests to view 7 species of turtles commonly found in the Southern Appalachians. “Guests love the turtle pond because it allows them to get very close to the animals and to compare several species that might live right in their own backyard” notes Chris Gentile, the Director of the Nature Center. Last winter played havoc on the pond though and staff at the Nature Center noticed the water level falling at an alarming level each day. “It got to the point where we had to fill the pond constantly to keep it at a safe enough level to keep from disturbing the hibernating turtles” says Gentile.

The Nature Center consulted several animal exhibit experts from zoos throughout the country and called on Platinum Ponds of Greer SC to design and construct a new exhibit for the turtles. “We needed a Certified Aquascape Contractor to lead the design” says Gentile, “these professionals are experts in not only creating waterscapes, but have an advanced knowledge of the life support needs of aquatic animals such as turtles”. The new exhibit calls for the construction of a natural filtration wetlands that will prevent the need for a “conventional” filter cutting down on maintenance costs dramatically. There will also be a cascading waterfall that will naturally oxygenate the water as it recycles through the system. “The new turtle pond at the Nature Center will look as if its been there for years, but will feature the latest design in eco-friendly waterscapes” says Richard Panten, Owner of Platinum Ponds, “we will create a habitat that will provide all of the areas the turtles need including sunny basking spots and deep water hibernation areas where they can sleep away the cold winters”.

Work on the renovation begins on May 31st and should be completed in a few weeks. While the turtles are off exhibit, the Nature Center veterinary staff is outfitting all of them with microchips to help better identify them.

For more information, contact Chris Gentile, Director of the Western North Carolina Nature Center, at 828-298-5600 ext 303.

Top Five Names for WNC Nature Center’s New Otter

Friday, May 14th, 2010

ASHEVILLE, NC – The City of Asheville’s contest to name the Western North Carolina Nature Center’s new male otter has received an overwhelming response with around 400 entries. Now, staff has narrowed the list to five names, and it’s up to the public to select the winning name. The top five are Mo, Ike, Obiwan, Twist, and Pitt.

The City of Asheville encourages Western North Carolina residents to visit www.surveymonkey.com/s/chosetheottersname to vote for their favorite. Voting will be open until May 20, and the winning name will be announced at a special naming event press conference in June. The person who entered the winning name will receive an otter adoption package from Friends of the Nature Center and be invited to attend the naming ceremony. If more than one person suggested the winning name, a winner will be drawn randomly.

Traditionally, otters at the Nature Center have received a name beginning with the letter “O,” though all names were considered for this contest. Entries were diverse and included names referencing pop culture and TV characters, Native American culture, natural features of Western North Carolina, and favorite family member names.

For more information, contact Chris Gentile, Director of the Western North Carolina Nature Center, at 828-298-5600.