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Posted by Rob Carmichael on May 08, 2003 at 07:53:28:
As some of you know, I direct a successful and fast growing wildlife center that features MANY herps and raptors (my second favorite animal of all time). Our focus is on education but we also engage in captive breeding, rescues/rehab, outreach, youth herpetology trips/summer camps (the best part of my job is in leading junior and senior high kids on herpetology excursions...two more weeks until my first trip!), and field research (I'm working with massasaugas and our center supports several important herp conservation projects including the eastern indigo work being done at the U. of Georgia).
We are somewhere in between a nature center (that usually features native herps) and a zoo (the difference being that people get REAL close encounters with truly exotic species such as various boas, pythons, monitors and even venomous herps under very controlled conditions)....of course, no herp facility is complete without a big, impressive eastern indigo on display!
Recently, I was able to make a case towards obtaining funds from our city (approximately $450,000 plus several large grants on top of that) to restore an old farm that sits on 600 acres of the finest black soil, tall grass savanna in the U.S....what an opportunity this is. Now, we are working closely with Habitat Systems in designing a public display that will surely knock the public's socks off when they come in. Although our first phase will give us approximately the same amount of room we currently have (one large exhibit area, a classroom, and office area), the outdoor setting is what really makes this place special.
So here is where I need people's help (for those who are interested): We are going with very naturalistic displays and at first, we were going to go with laminated picture backgrounds, however, we have since learned that this won't be of the quality that we were expecting. So, we are going to go with fiberglass artwork to create rocks, dens, boulders, trees, snags, vines, etc. HS is requesting for me to send him some nice pics of the types of trees, snags, rocks, etc. that we want to recreate as they can do just about anything that we want. If anyone knows any good web sites that depicts herps in natural settings please forward them on to me...we are under the gun on this project as we hope to have our grand opening in September (everyone's invited!). I have found some nice ones but with more people keeping an eye out for high quality pics will increase our chance to find just the right image. ONE OF OUR FEATURED DISPLAYS WILL BE OF MY BIG MALE EASTERN INDIGO SNAKE THAT WILL RESIDE IN A CAGE MEASURING 8' X 4' X 3'...NOT A BAD PAD FOR AN INDIGO. If you come across any, please forward the websites/pics to:
MANY THANKS IN ADVANCE!
Rob Carmichael, Director/Curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center
City of Lake Forest, Parks & Recreation (Illinois)