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Centre Wildlife Care To Host 15th Annual 'Wild About Animals' Event

by on March 29, 2014 7:00 AM

If you're an animal lover, interested in community fundraising, or just a looking for a fun-filled weekend event, Centre Wildlife Care may have just the ticket.

On Saturday, March 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Penn State's Snider Agricultural Arena, Centre Wildlife Care will be hosting its 15th annual "Wild About Animals," an animal expo, outreach and educational event. A number of area groups have gotten involved, including the Small and Exotic Animals Club, veterinarians and rescue groups to help raise money to care for animals in need.

"People like it because it's a family oriented event, and something they can take their kids to," says Robyn Graboski, director and founder of CWC. "And the adults enjoy the animals just as much as the kids do."

Dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, hawks, owls, chickens, livestock and even a real live camel will be on display. Activities and games promise fun for the whole family, including a silent auction, carnival games, pony rides, face painting, and arts and crafts. Tickets are $7 each, and children under five receive free admission. All proceeds will benefit Centre Wildlife Care, a non-profit organization committed to caring for orphaned and injured animals.

Graboski, a Penn State graduate, is a trained and licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator and has been rehabilitating wildlife since 1988. Since opening in 1995, she and a team of volunteers and student interns have cared for and released thousands of injured, sick and orphaned wild animals back. Those animals are frequently hurt through run-ins with construction, landscaping, and tree maintenance projects. In 2013, CWC helped nurse over 1,200 animals back into good health, the largest total in the organization's 20-year history.

While helping set-up the event at the Ag Arena on Friday, Graboski said this weekend represents the biggest fundraiser of the year, helping fund the organization as it prepares for the most critical time of the year: baby season. During the summer months between May and June, Graboski estimates they rescue close to "50 percent" of the organization's yearly total. In the summertime, it's not uncommon to have anywhere between 200-300 animals in house at organization's home in Port Matilda at the base of Skytop mountain.

Before releasing animals back into the wild, volunteers at CWC first conduct a thorough assessment. In addition to evaluating the initial injury and recovery, they also make sure the animal is old enough to be on its own. Once an animal is determined to be at a normal body weight and can demonstrate normal survivor behaviors (such as recognizing natural foods), it is released under careful supervision.

"The time frame depends on the species," says Graboski. "It may only be a month or two for a bird, but may be four months for a raccoon. It just depends on the animal."

Roughly two thousand to three thousand people attend "Wild About Animals" each year, and in 2013, CWC raised $17,000,

"The first year we did it, we made $2,000 - but we didn't charge at the door," says Graboski. Astonishingly, proceeds from concessions and the silent auction were still able to give CWC a much-needed boost in funding. Since then, Graboski says, the organization has committed to improving "Wild About Animals" year round. As soon as the last animal is sent home, the final box packed, and the last table stowed away, the team begins working on making the next year's event even better.

"As soon as this event is over we start planning for next year," she says.

For more information about this weekend's event, visit Centre Wildlife Care online by clicking here. Interested in volunteering? Send an email to Robyn Graboski at centrewildlifecare@gmail.com.

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C.J. Doon is a frequent contributor to Onward State. A Long Island native, Doon is studying print journalism at Penn State.
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