PORT MATILDA - Barbara was born there. Violet likes to hang out in her "office." Sammy talks a lot, Steven lives a comfortable life, and Helen Keller takes naps in her little wooden box.
They are some of the permanent residents of Centre Wildlife Care. Their stay there is comfy, but they also work part-time.
Barbara is a 6-foot-long black rat snake; Violet is a skunk; Sammy, a saw-whet owl; Steven, a hog-nose snake; and Helen, a blind gray squirrel.
"These are animals that are handicapped in some way or another and can't be released into the wild," said Robyn Graboski, wildlife rehabber and director and founder of the facility.
She holds educational programs for the public, using the animals to teach people about wildlife. Topics cover a variety of subjects, including bats, reptiles and birds.
"We can modify it for people who maybe want a program on just birds, raptors and songbirds," she said. "We will do programs at any function and take the appropriate animals for that group."
TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: Choose four to six animal representatives from the available mammals, birds and reptiles.
BATS ARE THE GOOD GUYS: Live bats are used in this program, which can be adapted for adults or children.
MY COLD-BLOODED FRIENDS: Live exotic and native reptile species, in addition to a preserved rattlesnake.
REHABILITATION: Slideshow with or without one animal representative. Best suited for a formal setting.
BATS & RABIES: Slideshow on bats of Pennsylvania, with information about rabies. Live, healthy bats involved in program.
- All programs include information about Centre Wildlife Care, natural history of the wild animals featured in the program and what to do if you find a wild animal that needs help.
At a large outdoor enclosure near her home, Graboski indicates a red-tailed hawk named Andromeda. She is a permanent resident that is used for some of the educational programs.
Andromeda is very large for a red-tail, but Graboski said she is a great bird to take to programs.
"I mainly try to educate people so that they can understand and appreciate wildlife," she said. "Any time there is intolerance for anything, it's because they don't understand the topic or issue. We bring these animals in and give them an up close and personal experience."
If people develop a personal interest in wildlife, then they might think twice about putting poison in their yards or doing other things that can harm wild animals.
The programs are available for a fee, which benefits Centre Wildlife Care.
For more information, email email@example.com or call 814-692-0004.