Maine Wildlife Park – Gray, Maine

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I am a great lover of kitsch and wacky places–just wait til I work over Hammond Castle later in this blog. I prefer the local to the national (hopefully I have stepped foot for the last time in Disney properties). I also love me a zoo. Well, sort of. I love me what they now call “parks” but we all know what they are. Animals in captivity. It gets harder and harder to visit zoos as I grow older–as a kid, they were simply awesome. Now I will not visit any zoo that pulls animals from the wild–there are three zoos in the US that recently imported wild elephants from Zimbabwe. But I digress…do not get me started on elephants.

So the reason that the Maine Wildlife Park is cool is that the animals here are only here because they would not survive in the wild. An albino deer that would be swiftly killed by hunters, a wounded eagle, and others about which we know not much. That would be my request to Maine Wildlife Park– tell us the stories of these creatures. We know some were brought up in people’s houses–and then oops, turns out pumas are not great house cats. So here they are.

If I were a captive beastie, I think I would be okay with living in the Maine Wildlife Park. Beautiful old trees, windy paths passing by and some gardeners with a sense of humor:

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Also, if you are a deer, a duck, a trout, or a bear, you have totally lucked out–especially if you know people with quarters. Yes, the visitors can feed in a bunch of quarters (the whole park is cash only, btw) and get deer chow, trout chow etc. We fed a white-tailed deer that would have been unwelcome in my own yard (only because it strips my poor willow). The ducks got no meow mix from us, but it turns out you can catapult bear chow right at the two bears. This was completely ridiculous. You put in your quarter, stomp a pedal on the floor and the food is catapulted right into the bears. Honestly I doubt they could feel it through all their fur but there was something a little vicious about it.

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Flinging food at bears: good times

We enjoyed watching the albino raccoon attempt to get oyster crackers (unauthorized–and not from us) which were just out of reach. She smushed her face into the bars and reeeeeaaachhed. The skunks were industriously entertaining and their neighbor the beaver shockingly smelly.

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Gimme that cracker!

My favorite silliness of the afternoon was watching the keepers attempt to lure the two mountain lions (a brother and sister) out of their cave. They dangled raw meat from ropes in the chain link ceiling. The mountain lions looked at it bouncing around, then seemingly looked at us, the audience, and rolled their eyes (okay I imagined that part, but I think they would have if they could have). Finally after about 10 minutes, the brother leaned out, stuck out his giant paw and swatted the food right into his mouth. Pretty anti-climatic. Pretty funny to me.

We marveled at the lynx munching dead mice, gorgeous hawks and regal eagle preening, and then descended the fish tank alley. Building after building which contained pools of trout which would jump on down level by level as they grew up. These fish were destined for stocking in Maine ponds and lakes, but before they go, they also get a chance at fish chow.

My kids spent 75 cents on great handfuls of fish chow and chucked it altogether into the final pond. It was like a horror movie. These trouts were HUNGRY. A giant melee ensued and hopefully no blood drawn. Immensely entertaining for the little ones.

All in all, the Maine Wildlife Park is a good time for little money. Well, probably I need to count up all the chow quarters because possibly I spent more than I thought. Makes me think about working up a catapult for my puppy who needs some exercise going after her food.

Open til Veterans Day. You can see more here: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife-park/about/index.html

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So, I’m leaving Maine and back to Massachusetts for my next blog. Gloucester perchance and the great, and greatly wacky Hammond Castle.

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Moonrise over Vacationland

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