Maine Wildlife Park sees 20 percent increase in attendance
Interest in the Maine Wildlife Park is thriving this year, with more than 45,000 visitors so far, representing a 20 percent increase in attendance compared to last year.
“It’s great to see interest in the wildlife park growing, with both residents and tourists making this a travel destination,” said Lisa Kane, wildlife education coordinator.
The park, located on Route 26 in Gray, is home to 30 different wildlife species including bald eagles, hawks and owls, black bears, bobcats, Canada lynx, mountain lions and deer.
Many people come to Maine from out of state to try to snag a look at a moose and visitors to the park get the unique opportunity to observe and photograph the park’s beloved Moose pair.
This spring, the park welcomed scores of school children on field trips for a variety of species-specific programs and guided tours as well as lessons in archery, animal artifacts and state symbols.
Visitors who come to the park during July and August can take advantage of wildlife talks on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and a story and craft hour on Thursday morning each week.
Throughout the season, the park gives families and individuals the chance to take a guided tour of the grounds, walk along the gardens and tree, game and wetlands trails, visit the Maine Warden Service Museum, feed bear, deer, pheasants and turkeys and visit the nearby Dry Mills Fish Hatchery, which raises thousands of brook trout each year. The hatchery has been closed for renovations this year; but should be open by August.
New to the park this year is the recently opened 3,500-square-foot mountain lion exhibit, home to a male and female mountain lion, that was listed in New England Travel’s Top 10 New Things to See and Do in New England This Summer.
The park serves as a permanent home for animals that can’t survive in the wild, many of which were brought to the park injured, orphaned or after being illegally kept as pets.
People looking to observe and photograph wildlife “in the wild” can also venture to Swan Island, located in the Kennebec River off Richmond, to find resident white-tail deer, migrating waterfowl, nesting bald eagles, wild turkeys and other species.
The island is open from May to October with a ferry that takes visitors there and back four times daily. Reservations are required for the ferry, however personal canoes and kayaks may be used to access the island without prior reservation.
Visitors to the island can go hiking and camping while learning about its rich history with five standing buildings dating back to the 18th century.
For more information about the Maine Wildlife Park or Swan Island, which are both managed by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, visit www.mefishwildlife.com.