Outdoor Animals & Living Collections
Many of our animals are here due to injuries, illness, human socialization, or other issues which make them unreleasable to the wild. All enclosures have been specially designed to meet the natural needs of the species as well as to accommodate any physical limitations of the individual animal. Many of our animals’ homes include quiet areas, where they are able to rest and nap (if you don’t see an animal, this may be why). All animals receive regular check-ups from their vets and daily interaction with their caretakers.
Some of our animals live on exhibit (you can find them among exhibits inside the museum as well as outdoors on our Meadow Path and Wildlife Path). Additionally, we have program animals who are not on exhibit but do come out for certain EcoTarium experiences led by our Wildlife Staff and Museum Educators who have been specially trained to work with our animals.
The EcoTarium is a popular spot for New England wildlife, with land that includes woodlands, ponds and marshland, and meadow habitats. If you’re lucky, you might see a hawk, wild turkey, sparrow, oriole, red-winged blackbird, frog, fish, salamander, chipmunk, rabbit, squirrel or deer. Some animals you’re quite likely to see. Others are active at night when the grounds are closed or are very shy. Be a detective and look for their signs: tracks, burrows, nests or scat (that’s a fancy science word for poop). Seek out skunk tracks in the winter snow, hunt for owl pellets year round, and watch the meadow fill up with goldfinches when the flowers bloom in the summer.
Outdoor Animal Residents:
North American River Otters:
The EcoTarium has two resident river otters, a male and female, named Slydell and Daisy. You can often find them swimming in their nearly 3,300 gallon pool or sleeping together in their shelter.
Did you know…
- River otters eat a variety of foods, including fish, amphibians, rodents, small birds, eggs, crustaceans, and shellfish.
- River otters can close off a small valve in their ears and nose when swimming, which helps to keep water out.
River otters are found not only in Massachusetts, but throughout the entire United States and up into Canada. Otter Bedtime: To help you plan your trip, please note that our otters are brought inside approximately 15 minutes before closing in the summer, or before dark in the winter.
The EcoTarium houses one bald eagle, a female, named Dianne. She resides with us due to wing injuries, that prevent her from flying to hunt for food. Dianne, is named after Dianne Davis, a retired EcoTarium keeper, who worked with Mass Fish and Wildlife in 1985 to raise eagle chicks and bring bald eagles back to Massachusetts habitats!
Did you know…
- Bald eagles have vision four times sharper than ours.
- Bald eagles are not born with white heads, but instead have all brown feathers until five years of age when the white feathers grow in.
Bald eagles were nearly wiped out in the 1970’s due to pesticide use that harmed their eggs. Thanks to federal and state protection efforts, we’ve once again boosted their populations to safe numbers.
The EcoTarium’s resident barred owl is named Rose. She lives at the museum due to and eye injury that prevents her from living properly in the wild.
Did you know…
- Owls can turn their heads 270 degrees in either direction, which aids them in listening carefully for their prey in the dark of night.
- Despite their size and 3.5 foot wingspan, barred owls only weigh about two pounds.
- Barred owls are excellent nighttime hunters and eat small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, or rats. They will also consume fish, crayfish, and amphibians if possible.
Great Horned Owl:
The EcoTarium’s resident Great horned owl is named Rooney. Rooney lives at the EcoTarium due to previous head trauma that inhibits him from thriving in his natural habitat.
Did you know…
- Great horned owls have almost no predators as adults.
- Owls ears are placed asymmetrically, the right ear is higher than the left, allowing them to hear and locate their prey with pinpoint accuracy. They can hear about 10x better than humans!
- Great Horned Owls will utilize nests made by other birds such as bald eagles, hawks, ravens. They will also roost in cavities in trees, buildings, cliff ledges and human made platforms.
While all enclosures have been specially designed to meet the natural needs of the species as well as to accommodate any physical limitations of the individual animal, animals need novel experiences to use their natural instincts on a regular basis. This is called “enrichment” and it is a regular part of good husbandry (care of animals by humans).
You can support a variety of our enrichment programs by purchasing items from our Amazon Wish List which will directly get your items to our resident wildlife. Click on the button below to see how you can help: