Family Time: Fall is a chance to learn about animals at Oxbow

August 30, 2018

This fall, make a stop at Oxbow Park to see what the animals are up to at the park’s Zollman Zoo. Home to 30-plus species of Minnesota-native animals, the zoo offers a variety of free programs.

“We offer free, family-friendly programming most weekends, year round,” said Megan Betcher, Oxbow Park seasonal naturalist. “The programs are a great opportunity to learn more about the animals at the zoo.”

Up first in September is Feed the Otters. Families meet at the otter display to learn fun facts about Minnesota-native river otters while the zoo’s two otters (one male and one female) eat their lunch.

“Otters are very curious, very active animals. Definitely a crowd favorite at the zoo,” said Betcher. “In the wild, otters like rivers and streams — so, yes, there are definitely some around this area.”

After the otters, families can learn All About Porcupines (Sept. 8), observe Fall Changes (Sept. 22), and help with Prairie Seed Harvesting (Sept. 29). In between, families are invited to celebrate the Badger and Prairie Dog Exhibit Grand Opening (Sept. 15).

“Both of these creatures (badgers and prairie dogs) are great at digging,” said Betcher who leads many of the Saturday programs. “A lot of people ask us how we get them to stay in the exhibit. We’ll have a member of the construction crew here talking about how they made it work.”

Before and after the programs, families are invited to visit with the zoo’s other animals — black bear, wolf, coyote. Housed throughout the zoo and the zoo’s nature center, many of the animals spend September getting ready for winter.

“We have some animals that are preparing for winter now, preparing for hibernation. In September, the woodchucks will eat a little more and are a little more lethargic,” said Betcher. “Our black bear isn’t starting to get ready — not quite yet. Halloween will be her last full meal. Then she won’t eat again until April. At your house you might notice different birds that are passing through the area on their way to their wintering spot or animals preparing for the winter by bulking up.”

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