Nature Fest to Star Wild Survivors
By Susan Maxwell Skinner
Nisenan basket makers will demonstrate their skills at the Nature Fest event.
Archimedes owl is an esteemed teacher despite his own unhappy college experience. Tonight Show veteran Gabe Kerschner will present the raptor and other rescued wild animals at an October 6 open day at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center.
Photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner
CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Archimedes the owl, Spirit the bald eagle, an elk named Tule and a lynx with the moniker of Mukluk will journey to Carmichael’s Effie Yeaw Nature Center on Sunday, October 6.
Their sagas – along with those of bats, snakes, a raccoon called Radar and various raptors – are aimed to educate visitors during the Nature Center’s annual Nature Fest event. Celebrity presenter is Gabe Kerschner, a regular guest of NBC’s Tonight Show. Kerschner (59) runs Wild Things Inc. at a 35-acre animal sanctuary in Placer County. He and 60 species of rescued animals annually present hundreds of school programs geared to educate and entertain.
Kerschner’s critters are an international cast. He has shown alligators, lemurs, a kangaroo named Steve (after Australian naturalist Steve Irwin) and Pook -- a white-headed Thai Gibbon -- on national television. Nature Fest supporters will view a more regional ménage: “For this event, we’ll show North American animals,” says their protector. “An elk, a rattlesnake, a raccoon and a lynx. My bald eagle is Alaskan, so she’s bigger than local ones. Spirit would have a wingspan of over 6.5 feet – if she had both her wings.”
The magnificent bird demonstrates a common wilderness travesty. Explains Kerschner: “Since they’ve been protected, bald eagle numbers have rebounded. Some fishermen don’t want competition. She was only a year old when she was shot. With one wing, Spirit could not have survived. She’s gentle and awe-inspiring. When I show her, people get emotional. Children are amazed at her size. They love hearing how eagles dive and use talons to prey.
“Adults often cry. She’s our national emblem; they’re appalled to see what an American maliciously did to her.”
The 2013 Nature Fest represents homecoming weekend for another wild ambassador. Kerschner’s great horned owl was rescued six years ago at nearby American River College. “He broke a wing falling from a nest in the oaks on campus,” says the naturalist. “We figured he must be an extra wise owl; he went to college. So we called him (after the mathematical ‘wise one’) Archimedes.” Kerschner’s talks promote serious issues but punch lines – often of bald-eagle/bald-naturalist genre – fly thick and fast. “I try to be entertaining,” he says. “A laugh keeps interest going. You want people to experience a full range of emotions; it makes learning memorable.”
Kerschner’s critters are not the only educators at the 2013 Nature Fest. Resident Effie Yeaw raptors and reptiles will interact with visitors. The “Twilight” generation will be open-fanged by bat encounters. Spreading wings under the aegis of Sacramento “bat lady” Corky Quirk, exhibited megachiropterans are rescued specimens that improve understanding of gothic fiction’s most maligned mammal.
The Effie Yeaw facility is a resource for Native American studies. Fine basketry and abalone pendant-making will be demonstrated in the replica Nisenan village at the center on October 6. Children’s Activities, crafts and guided walks through the 80-acre wildlife preserve will be also available.
The fundraiser runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is $3 for visitors aged 13 and up; free for children. Parking is included. For more information, visit www.sacnaturefest.com or call (916) 489-4918.
Learn about Gabe Kerschner’s Wild Things Inc. at www.wildthingsinc.org