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Champions in Conservation: The Wilds in Rural Ohio, by Kyle Carlson

The Wilds currently maintains 31 rare and endangered species from around the globe. Successful breeding programs result in scores of animals being born there each year including Southern White Rhinos, Persian Onagers, Przewalski’s Wild Horses, Cheetahs, and Bantengs. Many of the species bred at this facility are in serious decline or even extinct in the wild. Some, like an endangered Scimitar-horned Oryx born in 2007, are returned to their native region, in this case to Tunisia, as part of reintroduction programs. The Wilds, along with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, has played a major role in reestablishing Trumpeter Swans and Ospreys to Ohio.

Research at The Wilds also includes restoration ecology (especially of surface mined areas), reproduction techniques, and various long-term projects in collaboration with a number of universities, zoological institutions, and federal agencies.

Though The Wilds is first and foremost a research center, the organization has done an excellent job in raising environmental awareness through public outreach and educational programs. Several weeklong youth camps are offered each summer, some with a focus on exposing kids to career opportunities in the fields of ecology and conservation. Adult and family educational camps are held as well. Each experience gives campers a behind-the-scenes look at the animal management techniques, scientific research, and habitats and facilities of The Wilds, and experienced naturalists, veterinarians, ecologists, and other professionals lead each camp.

Perhaps the best way to discover The Wilds is through one of the guided safari tours. Offered daily May through September, and weekends in October, these unique experiences take visitors behind the fences and into the open-range pastures with the animals. An enclosed, climate-controlled bus with large windows or an open-air vehicle allows for close encounters with Red-crowned Cranes; American Bison; Southern White and Greater One-horned Rhinos; Giraffes; Bactrian Camels; Sable Antelope; Grevy’s Zebras; and dozens of other species. Because the animals are not enclosed in pens, but rather are given acres of open habitat in which to roam, visitors can enjoy the wildlife in a way that is truer to real life than the typical zoo or safari park experience. The fences are barely visible from most places within the pastures. Native bird species, including Grasshopper Sparrow and Bobolink, are plentiful throughout these areas and are often encountered from the tour vehicles. 

Knowledgeable guides share information about the animals, research, and history of The Wilds throughout the approximately two-hour tour, which includes brief stops at various points to hike trails and visit the carnivore center and the newly installed aviary, which currently houses Budgerigars.

Similar tours can be experienced from horseback, zipline, or boat.

Globally important work is being accomplished at The Wilds. Consider a visit to see the animals, learn more about current conservation methods, and enjoy the scores of native birds that occupy this special place in southeastern Ohio.

Better yet, become a member of The Wilds, contributing directly to conservation. For more information, visit or call 740-638-5030.

More News

Grassland Birds in Decline

First Bees, Now Birds
From Pesticide Action Network North America

Prairie bird populations are falling in many Midwestern states, from ring-necked pheasants to horned larks to sparrows. Scientists now say insecticides are a primary culprit.

Minnesota birds are hardest hit with 12 species in decline, followed by Wisconsin with 11, and Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and New York with nine affected species each.

The recent study looked at a range of possible causes of the population declines, including habitat loss which has long been considered a key driver of the problem.

Bird conservationists are “still concerned” about range management, urban development and loss of habitat, but are now focusing additional attention on the harmful impacts of pesticides. According to Cynthia Palmer, Manager of the Pesticides Program at American Bird Conservancy:

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Birding Festivals

Looking for a birding festival this summer? Visit the Bird Watcher's Digest  "Festival Finder" page to have look for festivals around the country. This is a great way to get to find birds with local guides and field trips to hotspots in the area, and a fun way to get to know other birders too!


We have an exciting line-up of field trips, speakers, conferences, and other state-wide birding and educational events scheduled in 2014. Some of these are still in the planning stages, so be sure to check back often for updates. Please check our calendar page for upcoming events. We hope to see you there!

Following OOS just got easier!

OOS is utilizing a variety of e-tools to help you to learn more about birds, conservation, our birding partners, and OOS events. Check us out on the OOS Facebook page by searching for ' Ohio Ornithological Society'.  This page has over 1,400 likes and continues to grow. There are daily updates posted about various events and other bird and nature related news. Did you know that OOS is on Twitter?  Search ' OOS ' to follow us there.  And, we have a brand new blog page called "Ohiobirds". This blog is great for posts on various topics with searchable titles for past blog posts.  We welcome guest bloggers, and if you are interested in sharing with us, send us an email. We appreciate hearing from our birding partners! 

Reporting a Rare Bird Sighting

Part of the excitement of birding comes when we find something unusual, something rare or unexpected that we can relish and share with others. But telling others about your finding, in person or on the internet, is fleeting. Even more important, for the ornithological record, is documenting your record in a permanent way. Reports of rarities, when they can be authenticated and published, help to fill out the total picture of our local avifauna. As records, they can help us all to recognize habitats, regions, or seasons in which scarce species are most likely to be found.

Why Submit Documentation?

Any scientific report of an unusual phenomenon must be supported by documentation: that is, verifiable evidence reported and vouched for by a first-hand observer, submitted for peer review before acceptance and publication. In general, the rarer and more interesting the occurrence, the more important it is to document and verify it for the record.