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Raptor Center upgrades take wing
The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota campus in Falcon Heights broke ground last week on $1.5 million-worth of facility upgrades that will take place over the summer.
The center, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is currently home to several “educational” birds that are trained and travel to various locations for education programs, as well as more than a hundred ill or injured birds being rehabilitated for life back in the wild.
Each year, the facility offers in-house tours to about 20,000 people, and educates some 200,000 more through events in the community. The center estimates it rehabilitates more than 900 raptors every year.
Executive Director Dr. Juli Ponder says the facility will be renovated and a new outdoor education center, as well as bird housing enclosures, will be completed by early October. The current outdoor enclosures are made from untreated wood, which degrades quickly when exposed to harsh Minnesota weather.
“The need for repair is constant,” Ponder explained. “This facility was not built to withstand Minnesota snow and ice.”
The new facility, which was funded by private donors, will stay about the same size as it is now, but will have an entirely new layout that’s built with more durable, contemporary materials and is more pleasing to the eye, Ponder said.
When completed, the public education area will also be handicap-accessible, a feature that Ponder says is long overdue.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, noting the importance of educating children about the abundance of wildlife that could be visible in their own backyard.
For more information about the University of Minnesota Raptor Center, visit www.raptor.cvm.umn.edu.
— Johanna Holub