Blue Ridge Wildlife Center hosts baby shower for animals

BOYCE –The Blue Ridge Wildlife Center tries to keep most of its animals away from people. The organization rescues and rehabilitates wild birds, mammals and reptiles, and it wants to keep them wild.

“We don’t want them used to people,” said Jennifer Burghoffer, manager of education for the center.

But a select number of the organization’s animals are going to be shown on Sunday, at the center’s annual baby shower.

During the event, staff members of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center will display snakes, turtles and a striped skunk. The staff will educate visitors about the animals.

That education can take several forms.

“Some of the kids want to hear the interesting facts,” Burghoffer said.

Others are apprehensive about some of the animals, especially the snakes and the skunk. For those people, Burghoffer will often talk about what the species need to do to survive.

Burghoffer will tell people, for instance, “If you were a snake, this is what you’d have to do to survive,” she said.

She’ll sometimes tell parents that skunks like to eat stinkbugs, as a way of convincing them that the stinky animals are not to be hated.

These lessons, she said, can help people learn how to respond when they see wild animals.

“There’s a lot of people that come in contact with wildlife,” Burghoffer said.

The event, she said, can help people learn in determining whether a wild animal needs help.

“How we can live in harmony is a big point for us,” Burghoffer said.

That focus on harmony with animals is a large part of the center’s mission and is something that Chris Scott, the center’s executive director, wants visitors to pick up.

“The way that we care for the animals reflects the way that we care for each other,” Scott said. “I really do believe that.”

But the event isn’t only an educational opportunity for the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center. It’s also one of the organization’s two major fundraisers.

The center encourages visitors to come with “baby shower” gifts that the center can use throughout the year.

“We get dog food and cat food,” Scott said.

The center also encourages people to bring paper towels, bird seed, venison, gauze — all kinds of items that they use on a normal basis.

Other people will bring cash donations, but Scott said the majority bring the items.

In addition to animals, there will be crossword puzzles and activities for children who visit. There will also be an owl pellet dissection area where visitors can find out what an owl’s most recent meal was.

The event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. at 830 Long Branch Lane in Millwood.