Feeding Time at the Urban Ecology Center

by DeMisty Bellinger / photos by Neal Delfeld Where can you spend Saturdays walking with painted turtles, feeding snakes mice, and catching a wet frog without getting your shoes dirty? Try the Urban Ecology Center, located at Riverside Park, 2808 N. Bartlett Ave., near Riverside University High School. Saturday afternoons are open to the public for the center’s weekly afternoon animal feeding. Both child and adult visitors flock to see the Urban Ecology Center’s assortment of lizards, amphibians, and a large rock bass. While visiting the center, I got to feed sliced apples to an ornate box turtle named Peanut. Due to private capture and loss of habitat, ornate box turtles are not endangered. Peanut came to the center ill but has been nursed back to health and seems glad to have so much attention – or maybe she’s just glad about the apples. I watched an eight-year-old boy, who frequents the center, feed the pet constrictor some white mice. The visitors were enthralled by the snake’s unhinging jaws as it worked the mouse down. A large snapping turtle also enjoyed the delicacy of mice. The frog escaped once but was tracked down by Caty Poggenburg, one of the staff at the center. When it was time to feed it, the frog was difficult to catch. It was finally captured by John Coleman IV, the Urban Ecology Center’s weekend educator. Just the same, the frog ignored the crickets given to him. Coleman knows the animals he works with well. He is also patient with the kids who come to feed the animals on Saturdays. In spite of the excitement created by the guests and the tenants of the center, John remained calm and helped relax any squirmy children. Every Saturday at 1 p.m. is feeding time at the Urban Ecology Center. For more information about this event or other programs, call 964-8505.
by DeMisty Bellinger / photos by Neal Delfeld