Rowan Wildlife Adventures

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Greenspace

Rowan Wild at Dan Nicholas Park consists of three exciting adventures: the Nature Center, T.M Stanback Barnyard, and Wildlife Adventures. I visited the Wildlife Adventures area to see what animals they had there. As it was advertised, this is a small zoo containing native North Carolina species within Dan Nicholas Park. What I didn’t know was there were lions, tigers, and bears… Oh my. Just kidding, there were a couple of bears though!
Along with black bears, Wildlife Adventures features a bald eagle, red wolf, raccoon, red fox, alligator, and deer enclosures. There are also various birds of prey, also called raptors including owls, hawks, and vultures. All of these creatures can be seen across North Carolina from beautiful NC beaches to the mountains out west! Additionally, Rowan Wildlife Adventures features a wildlife pond that contains frogs and turtles. Along with that are informational and educational signs that display the life cycles of critters that live their lives around bodies of water. I was sad to see that there was not a bobcat in the bobcat exhibit, but there is so much to explore.

A message to all educators: Wildlife Adventures is the perfect place for a field trip. Fairly priced, admission costs are minimal with so much educational return for students and all who visit. Additionally, the small-sized zoo creates a contained space which is a safe location for students to explore! Also, there are many signs containing graphics and terms for students to read and learn from. Additionally, the facility is handicap accessible.

Personally, my favorite animals to visit were the owls. There were three species of owl there: the Barred Owl, Barn Owl, and the Eastern Screech Owl. Seeing these beautiful birds at the park gives you the chance to look at these nocturnal creatures which I find really exciting.

I noticed that a couple of the animals at the zoo were rescued including Roxy the Racoon. Roxy suffered trauma when she was a kit, or a young racoon leading to a disoriented walk. She has a safe home at the zoo where she is admired by many, giving her a purpose. Roxy along with the other animals at Wildlife Adventures have similar stories to share.

Conservation in Rowan Wild

A neat animal I didn’t expect to see was the red wolf. The only current record of surviving red wolf populations is in North Carolina, located in the Albemarle Peninsula. While there are almost 250 red wolves remaining in zoos around the United States, this is the most endangered species of wolf in the world. The remaining red wolves in the wild are protected under the Red Wolf Recovery Plan, including the wolves at the Rowan Wild facility. The decline of this species was the result of excessive hunting and predatory control efforts throughout the 1900s.

Red wolves are intermediate in size between a coyote and gray wolf and have redheads, ears, and legs. The genetic lineage for each species is different as they have different physical characteristics. Sometimes, the DNA of red wolves can be carried through breeding with coyotes! Science is neat when it comes to conservation. Conservation is the act of preventing a species from becoming extinct by providing a healthy habitat and natural resources. Conservation efforts can also be expressed through the arts. Rowan Wild displays a piece at the red wolf exhibit by Dale Weller called “Just Settling In”, which displays a “Red Wolf mom with pup”.  For more information on red wolf conservation efforts, you can visit the following website.

Please Be Mindful

These animals have sensitive hearing and limited space within their enclosures. While visiting, please respect the animals and staff thereby respecting their space and minding noise levels. The Barn Owl for example has hearing capacities that are ten times as sensitive as a human’s hearing capacity. Remaining mindful of the animals we are looking at by not tapping on their enclosure glass, or preventing children from shouting could make a huge difference in the quality of life for the animals.

I plan to visit the T.M Stanback Barnyard when it opens again in spring and the Nature Center when I have more time! Dan Nicholas Park also contains many other amazing components such as a train, carousel, mini-golf course, gem mine, paddle boats, and splash pad which are closed during the winter season. There is also a campground, lake, and plenty of shelters for events that are available to rent. I am sure that Rowan Wild has more visitors from all around when the weather warms up. I plan to bring my family and friends there in the future, to hop on the train, ride the carousel, and see more of the animals walking in the sun. With spring right around the corner, I am hopeful that that time comes soon!

About The Author

Madison Kluge

You might see me on the city of Salisbury’s greenways sporting a pair of rainbow roller skates! I officially graduate(d) May 2021 from the Environment & Sustainability program at Catawba College and I have/will soon take on the role as Salisbury’s Sustainability Coordinator. At Catawba, I researched the Emerald Ash Borer for a couple of years, spearheaded campus composting, and became heavily involved with environmental education planning. My goal as a connector is to establish a non-formal greenspace pedagogy with you and navigate the great outdoors by engaging with a variety of local farmers, NPO’s, parks, trails, preserves, educational institutions, and sustainable events. I will also explore available technologies/ apps that enhance our experience of the great outdoors in plant and animal identification and citizen science initiatives. To my fellow nature and environmental enthusiasts: get to know Rowan County better with me in the evolving greenspaces. Let’s get dirt under our nails!