Squam Lakes Natural Science Center

Meanwhile back on shore I watched a couple more loons right near the docks as they fished and enjoyed lunch. I was wishing I had more time to watch and try to photograph them but the clock was ticking and I wanted to check out the actual Science Center before I finished my trek south.

The Center is only a couple of blocks from the lakefront so it was just a few minutes and I was back in their parking lot. I was able to head right in as I had a little sticker they had given me earlier. I was afraid it would be crowded as there were quite a few cars and several buses in the parking lot but it wasn’t too bad at all!

As you enter the grounds there’s an exhibit hall,  gift shop and restrooms and then the trail splits one side to the right and the nature trail and the other to the left to the animal exhibits.

I enjoyed the exhibits in the hall. The were set up to show local animals in their natural surroundings yet there was something very whimsical about the displays.

From there I took the right fork to the walking trails.

The trail led through a meadow, over a floating bridge that crossed a marsh and up to a little pond.

Along the way were signs and exhibits to explain what you were seeing and the importance of each type of habitat.

While I was wandering along the pond it started to sprinkle so I turned my steps back to the center. I really wanted to see the animals before the sky opened up.

The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center is not a zoo although is does enjoy  national accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The mission of the center is “to advance understanding of ecology by exploring New Hampshire’s natural world. ” If that mission leads to the rescue and rehabilitation of the native wildlife, then that’s what they do.

The nature center has captive animals that are native to New Hampshire and are considered “animal ambassadors”.

There are strict guidelines in place to govern what animals are taken into the center. For example, the Science center has to first determine if they have a need. They also have to consider the cost of the care of the animal in question. Most of the animals at the center are rescues. For any number of reasons they cannot be released back into the wild as they would not survive. Any animal accepted must be an animal that does well in captivity. These are just a few of the  considerations that go into any decision to take in an animal. If there is more than one animal in an enclosure care is taken to neuter the male so there won’t be any “little” critters coming along. The Science Center is not equipped to run a breeding program.

Back where I began I turned down the left trail and ran into one of the volunteers. She had a little screech-owl on her arm.

 She was doing a casual presentation to anyone who wanted to stop. It appeared to be  pretty much unscripted with her fielding questions and just chatting with the visitors.

As I headed off I came to a bridge over a little brook. On the far side was another stage where a more formal presentation about various raptors was taking place. The little hawk the presenter was showing off was doing a great job of holding everyone’s attention.

The next exhibit along the trail was a moose exhibit. The  inhabitant was a beautiful bull moose facsimile…a statue but a very handsome statue. The exhibit was to show the type of habitat a moose would live in.

But now I was approaching the real animal exhibits. There were lynx and bobcat, foxes, bears, otters, mountain lions, deer and raptors.

The bird exhibit held the hawks and there was a bald eagle!

 Actually two of them, an adult with the white head and an adolescent with the splotchy brown and white coloring.

In the enclosure next to the eagles a small hawk has having lunch. The kids watching were both “grossed out” and fascinated as the little bird tore a mouse apart right in front of them. Nothing like a ringside seat to nature in action!

My time was running short so I made a quick swing through the gift shop and then out to the car to resume my homeward journey.

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 It would have been nice to stay longer and explore a little more in-depth but my little zoo was waiting at home. I knew my two cats would be ready for my return no matter how much the pet sitter spoiled them!

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