Dan and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center

Tucked along the Elk River in Banner Elk, North Carolina, is the Dan and Dianne May Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Being connected to Lees McRae’s outdoor oriented college, the center is open to the public.

There is so much depth to a vacation destination if you dig; every place you go likely has something uniquely enriching to dive into. Banner Elk has many unexpected treasures in the arts and outdoors, that will bring your visit to the next level.

The wildlife center is close to downtown, yet off a road filled with trees and foliage; when you step out of the car, you’ll be greeted with the peaceful sound of the rushing river, and a beautiful, cabin like structure surrounded by flowers and evergreens.

Along a walkway leading to the front entrance is a few of the Ambassadors; a Redtail hawk and some owls being a few of them. These animals could not return to the wild after rehabilitation, so they have their forever home here.

My favorite was a spunky owl who sadly was taken from her nest as a baby, and became so domesticated that if in the wild, will too freely approach humans. So instead of being unprotected in the wild, she has a crew of living experts to care for her. She basically thinks she’s human, and our guide said she has been deemed a princess there. She was very friendly and would call out as visitors would walk a way. These birds are also part of educational demonstrations, which are free to the public.

Inside, there is an observation window where you can watch the vet perform procedures on injured animals. A small hawk was on the table when we visited, later followed by a blue jay. The doctor took a break to come speak with us about the animals that come through the center; bobcats, turtles and possums to name a few. While we were talking with her, a woman came in with a tiny, injured chimney swift she had found.

A reptile room is a adjacent to the main entrance, and we got to see an Indigo snake in person. It’s illegal to own these harmless, yet endangered species, but the center has a special license, and the friendly fellow helps educate visitors. He was slithering up his handlers sleeve during the demonstration. I’ve never been a huge snake fan, given my home state, Georgia, is overflowing with poisonous Water Moccasins, but this slippery guy was adorable. We also found it helpful to see the non-venomous snake up close to ensure we never harmed one in assumption it was poisonous.

Saturday’s at 1pm throughout the year, and on Thursdays and Fridays in the summer, bring the family to see the animals and learn about their environment. Visiting the center is a nice activity if you are looking for something quick and exciting; adult and kids alike love it.

Visit bannerelk.com for more exciting things to do.

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