Grand Canyon Celebrate Wildlife Day 2011_0760
During the 2011 Celebrate Wildlife Day at Grand Canyon National Park, eyes widened and jaws dropped throughout the crowd as sibling mountain lion cubs were carried onto stage to be greeted by wildlife expert Jack Hanna. The cubs swatted at each other’s tails as Jack enthusiastically shared his love and amazing facts about the creature’s life; cougars are the greatest leaping animal on earth and the top predator at Grand Canyon. It was a perfect educational program filled with raptors, mammals and reptiles.
On Saturday, May 7th, visitors, locals, staff and families took a day out of their lives to appreciate and celebrate the wildlife of Grand Canyon. Visitors attended interpretive programs and learned of ravens, snakes, elk and lions. They participated in hands-on activities to learn how biologists track the endangered California condor. Kids of all ages had butterflies, scorpions and lizards painted on their faces. Visitors came face to face with live rehabilitated animals brought up from the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center. For many, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to see a golden eagle up close.
The highlight of the day was having renowned wildlife expert Jack Hanna share his knowledge and passion for animals as the event’s special guest speaker. His programs were so popular that lines formed around the building just to hear him speak. Jack values education and presented three programs to almost 900 visitors.
“We learn about animals because we care for them,” he said. “It’s about love, that’s why we are here.”
This year, close to 1,500 visitors participated in this annual event, which was created in 2007 to honor the life Eric York, a Grand Canyon wildlife biologist who died in 2007. The event celebrates the wildlife of the park, the work of wildlife biology and allows each of us the opportunity to acknowledge our love and appreciation of the natural world. We hope you might join us next year on May 5, 2012 to celebrate wildlife.
Celebrate Wildlife Day was made possible through a partnership between the National Park Service and Grand Canyon Association. Other partners include Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center, Arizona Game and Fish Department, Grand Canyon Unified School District, Leave No Trace, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Grand Canyon Railway, and Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts, Inc..
NPS Photo by Erin Whittaker