State College

Families get ‘Wild About Animals’ at annual wildlife fundraiser

Deondre Shelley, 8, pets Kyley, a seven-year-old dromedary, on Saturday during the 17th annual Wild About Animals exhibit to benefit Centre Wildlife Care at Penn State’s Snider Agricultural Arena.
Deondre Shelley, 8, pets Kyley, a seven-year-old dromedary, on Saturday during the 17th annual Wild About Animals exhibit to benefit Centre Wildlife Care at Penn State’s Snider Agricultural Arena. adrey@centredaily.com

Centre Wildlife Care acquired a red-tailed hawk about five years ago after she was hit by a car.

Blinded in her right eye, the bird of prey, named Andromeda, is not suited to be released back into the wild but acts as an “education ambassador” for the Worth Township-based organization, said founder and executive director Robyn Graboski.

“We care for orphan and injured wildlife, rehabilitate them and have educational outreach programs,” she said. “With Andromeda, she’s not fit to be released because her vision’s been impaired, so we use her for educational programs.”

Showcased by volunteer Carrie Puchta, Andromeda was one of many animals on display Saturday at the 17th annual Wild About Animals exhibit at Penn State’s Snider Agricultural Arena.

Graboski said the event was a way to raise money for Centre Wildlife Care.

“We’re the only one in central Pennsylvania,” she said. “The next nearest wildlife rehabilitation centers are in Somerset and Lancaster counties.”

The goal this year was to raise about $20,000 — something Graboski said was a “realistic expectation.”

Last year, about $18,000 was raised.

“It’s a little cold out, and it’s the opportunity for people to come out, have fun and see what we’re up to,” Graboski said. “It’s very family-friendly, and I think we’re getting more people than last year.”

She estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people were in attendance at Saturday’s event that included more than 30 exhibitors, a petting zoo and pony rides.

Glenda Haris and her grandson Callum McGregor, of Port Matilda, said they were most fascinated by the Tibetan yak found at the petting zoo in the back of the arena.

I’ve never seen such a thing. It kind of looks like a bull, but cooler.

said Callum McGregor, 8, of the Tibetan yak

“I’ve never seen such a thing,” Callum, 8, said excitedly. “It kind of looks like a bull, but cooler.”

The two made it to the event Saturday morning as an annual outing the duo does the day before Easter.

“He’s my only grandson, and I don’t get to see him much because him and his parents live out of town,” Haris said. “We get together for Easter and always make time the day before to hang and do something fun. It’s just the two of us. … This is nice, and a little different than some of the other events we usually do that are a little more Easter-like.”

Haris said she heard about the event from signs posted on the Penn State campus, and thought it was the perfect event for her and her grandson.

“I think all kids, especially Cal, love going to the zoo,” she said. “We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo a couple years ago and he loved it, and (I) thought this was a convenient and perfect way to bring him back to something that would remind him of that, and interact with some of the workers who know a thing or two about the animals.”

Graboski said about 100 volunteers were on hand — many who exhibited some of the wild animals cared for at Centre Wildlife Care.

“It honestly takes a village to do this,” she said. “It’s our supporters, volunteers and sponsors to help make this happen.”

“It’s a long planning process to get things set up with booking the arena and setting a date, and making sure to contact exhibitors, but it’s worth it,” she said.

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo

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