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Trails are open! Please follow all rules and maintain social distancing . . . Read More

Animal Ambassadors

Tenafly Nature Center cares for 30+ animals that, due to a variety of reasons, cannot be released into the wild. Instead these animals act as ambassadors for their species and help our staff educate thousands of adults and children about the adaptations and needs of local wildlife and the importance of protecting their habitats.

You can help TNC care for these amazing individuals by participating in our sponsor a species program.

Sponsoring an animal at Tenafly Nature Center for yourself, a friend, or your organization is both rewarding and fun. Your sponsorship will help care for them by aiding in the cost of their upkeep! Contributions assist TNC by providing support for their food, building and improving enclosures, and securing necessary medical care.

What better way to share your love of animals than to help ours receive the best care possible! Please consider making a donation next time you visit TNC.

Come visit them anytime the Visitor Center is open!


Mammals


These two litter mates were surrendered to an SPCA after their initial owners no longer wished to care for them. They were transferred to a rabbit & rodent rescue, who then put a post on petfinder which is where TNC adopted them from.

Birds


In the fall of 2006, Ruby was found tangled up in a tree on Long Island close to power lines. They found a string twisted around her left wing, an injured left eye, and red nail polish on her beak, legs, and feet. 

Ruby was taken to a wildlife rehabilitator who guessed she had been stolen from the wild as a nestling. The rehabilitator was able to remove the string and most of the red nail polish but her eye injury was permanent. Ruby's eye injury prevents her from seeing well enough to fly or hunt. Since she would not survive life in the wild, TNC volunteered to provide her with a new home and care for the rest of her life. Nine months later, her red tail feathers began to grow as she turned two years old. Ruby is now a healthy adult hawk. In 2016 Ruby celebrated her 10 year anniversary with TNC! She has been happy and healthy and continues to be used to educate adults and children.


In 2016 Mort was found injured on the side of a Texas road. The rehabilitator believed he was feasting on roadkill when wind caused by a speeding car lifted him up and dropped him on the ground, causing a wing fracture and broken toes. It is estimated that 1 million animals are killed by cars in the U.S. annually. This affects vultures in both good and bad ways. The abundant food supply has enabled the expansion of their range, but it also attracts them to roads. Unfortunately, Mort’s wing injury left him with partial flight capabilities. For three years, he lived at another nature center but in 2020 they could no longer care for him. In 2021 he came to Tenafly Nature Center.


Mitzi was found with an injured wing along a road in Pennsylvania. Most likely Mitzi was scavenging road kill when the force of the wind from a passing vehicle caused this light bird (owls' bones are hollow) to be lifted up and dropped too quickly to react in a safe way. A wildlife rehabilitator treated its injured wing, which did not heal well enough to allow the owl to hunt and survive in the wild. Mitzi came to TNC in 2003. For birds like Mitzi found as adults, we cannot estimate age or sex. Mitzi's health deteriorated in 2020, due to age, and Mitzi is no longer able to fly or get around easily. Therefore, Mitzi was placed in a smaller section of TNC's outdoor aviary where it is easier to get around and access food and water. In 2021 Mitzi and the other Barred Owls have recently attracted the attention of a wild Barred owl who can now be seen and sometimes heard around TNC's outdoor aviary.

Mene, also a rescue bird with a permanently damaged wing as a result of a car injury, joined TNC in April 2013 after several months with a rehabilitator. Mene blinks his right eye more often than his left which suggests head trauma.

Winakw, was admitted to a rehab facility near Pittsburgh, PA. The cause of his injury was unknown, but after an extensive medical exam he was found to have a detached retina and was deemed non-releasable. Owls use both audio and visual cues to hunt for their prey so the loss of vision would make it very difficult for him to hunt and care for himself in the wild. TNC was his last hope, if we were unable to house him the next option was euthenasia. Both Mene and Winakw share a section in TNC's outdoor aviary.


Kenni (short for Kennicottii - the second part of the species name) was rescued by the roadside in August of 2020 outside White Salmon, WA. The smaller owl's right elbow was visibly bruised, and it unfortunately lost the voluntary extension of the right wing. Therefore, Kenni is not able to move it's right wing and therefore non-flighted.

Amphibians


Romeo was found at the TNC cul-de-sac when someone had released him back into the wild after keeping him as a pet.* It was early March 2010 and temperatures were too cold for a bullfrog. Romeo can easily be identified as a male by the circles behind his eyes which are called "tympanic membrane" The males will have a larger tympanic membrane than the eye and the females are about the same size or smaller than the eye. American bullfrogs produce a toxin in their skin making them an extremely unpleasant taste.

*A captive frog should never be released into the wild. The frog may be a non-native species that could establish a population in your neighborhood, where it may eat native species or compete with them limited food resources. Alternatively, the frog may spread infectious diseases to a new frog population. The best thing to do if you have a pet frog you can no longer care for is to return the pet to the store from which you bought it; donate it to a local school (informing them why you do not want to set it free); or call up a local herpetological society to see if they would like to adopt your frog.


In September 2006 we found someone trying to release Boo into our woods. The owner took her from the wild illegally and was tired of having her as a pet. We can not release her back into the wild. (See Romeo and Ethel). The common myth that you will catch warts from touching a toad is completely false. They have dry, warty skin and their glands produce a secretion that can be irritating to humans if rubbed in the eyes or mouth. The throats are lighter if they are female and darker if they are male.


Marbled salamanders males have white cross-bands and females have gray/silver cross-bands on their back. They are typically fossorial, which means they spend the majority of their time burrowed underground, out of sight.

Reptiles


Wild was brought to TNC to be released, illegally and without permission from TNC, in 2001. A family had picked her up while on a road trip and kept her in their basement until they didn't want to care for her anymore (box turtles can live to be 100!). Since her original home territory was unknown, she could not be returned. Also, Wild was dangerously malnourished. Well cared for by TNC's staff, she quickly regained her health. 

Star is on permanent loan from local turtle specialists Joyce and the late Don Zeiller. In addition to helping to found TNC, they educated countless people about NJ turtles. Don would often point out the canine marks on her shell to illustrate the dangers of predation to turtles. Star's injuries were caused by a domestic dog. You can sex box turtles by the color of their eyes. Red eyes are male, while orange-brown eyes are female. Both of our box turtles are female.


Maple is a wood turtle which are threatened in New Jersey mainly due to habitat loss. She came to us after being abandoned by a breeder. Maple is now used to educate others about the importance of keeping her habitat protected in NJ for future organisms. Wood turtles are considered the smartest among all turtle species. They stomp the ground to create vibrations causing their prey such as worms to crawl up to the surface.


Confiscated from someone who was running a black market reptile trade these hatching Diamondback Terrapins came to live at TNC in 2020. Their adult parent Diamondback Terrapins had been abducted from the wild and Hudson, Delaware & Chesapeake were born in captivity and therefore, cannot be released into the wild. They were less than 2 months old when TNC was contacted by a wildlife refuge outside of New Brunswick, NJ to privide them with a suitible home for the remainder of their lives (25-40 year) .


Ellie is a wild born corn snake, also known as a red rat snake. Ellie was found with an injured tail, and was  illegally taken in for treatment by someone who hoped  to use her for breeding purposes. Due to her time in  captivity, she cannot be returned to the wild. Her importance as an endangered species in our state led to  her placement at TNC by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection in 2013.

Tangle was confiscated in same raid as the diamondback terrapins in 2020 and was brought to a wildlife refuge outside of New Brunswick, NJ. Tangle is a product of the pet trade and its coloring differs from the native New Jersey Corn Snake. When Tangle arrived at TNC it was a hatchling. Both Corn Snakes are ready to teach others about their speices. For example: Did you know that the corn snake is distinguished from other rat snakes by the stripe extending near the back of the eye past the corner of the jaw. Additionally, they have a beautiful bold checkerboard pattern of black and white on the underbelly.


Reptar came to us in 2019. He was found by someone walking in a local park and was hanging on a fence. We have to assume his former owner released him outside not knowing that he would not be able to survive. He is well-loved and cared for and does an excellent job educating others about his species. 

Bearded dragons are called "bearded" because of the spikes and scales around their throat that resemble a pointy beard. They also expand their throat and can turn it black when threatened.


In 2011 a family surrendered Lego to TNC. They were moving and felt she was "too aggressive to be handled."After much patience and care,  Lego became the lovable leopard gecko that she is today. Lego gets her name from the yellow coloring and brown spots on her body resembling a leopard. If she feels threatened, she can break off her tail to escape and grow it back later. Leopard gecko's are different from other geckos as they lack adhesive lamellae preventing them from walking up vertical surfaces.

Megabloks and Duplo were added to the TNC family in 2019. Upon their arrival they were very shy and scared. Usually attempting to flee and hide when being around people. Now they are happy as can be and love being held and visited!

Invertebrates


Walking sticks are a nocturnal insect which mimic tree branches. To help avoid detection they sway back and forth to mimic a branch blowing in the wind. If they lose a limb, they can grow them back over time. Walking sticks feed on a variety of plants such as ivy and bramble.

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