An Animal Ambassador is a wild animal who is no longer living in the wild for a specific reason, but has a new purpose of educating the community about their species. Some animals have permanent injuries that prohibit their release, others have been raised in captivity for educational purposes. ODC’s education ambassadors educate more than 68,000 adults and children in programs annually.
You can see them by visiting the Eldean Wildlife Exhibit and De Witt Birds of Prey Center at the ODC.
Sponsoring an animal at the Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC) is a personal commitment to help us advance outdoor education and conservation in West Michigan. The ODC is home to 26 birds of prey, 5 mammals, and several reptiles and amphibians. These animals act as ambassadors for their species to help ODC Staff educate thousands of people about Michigan wildlife.
Sponsoring an animal ambassador of your choosing helps us meet the animals’ holistic care needs, such as diet and enrichment, throughout their lives.
To choose this level of sponsorship, choose “other” on the donation page and type in $500
These are some of the species of animals living at the Outdoor Discovery Center. If you would like to sponsor an animal who is not listed, please contact Ashley VanZee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peregrines are stocky falcons that are designed to fly at extreme speeds while chasing prey. They have long pointed wings, long slender talons, and dark eyes. Peregrines are typically slate gray on the back and buff colored on the belly with black barring.
Primarily eats birds, especially waterfowl and pigeons; hunts from very high perches or while soaring; dives to strike prey in the air usually killing on impact.
Striped skunks are famous for their ability to spray foul-smelling musk. Skunks have two scent glands at the base of their tail and can aim the musk, either as a stream that arcs through the air, a fine mist cloud, or a direct shot to the face of an intruder.
Omnivorous; prefers insects and digs up ground-nesting bees and grubs, also eats worms, eggs, amphibians, and plant matter including berries, nuts, and roots.
Bald Eagles are large, stocky birds with a dark-brown body and a white head and tail. They have large yellow beaks and feet. In flight, their large wings appear straight-edged and are held flat. Groups of eagles congregate where prey is abundant, such as suitable areas along the Great Lakes.
Bald eagles typically hunt from a perch, but also while in flight. Most common prey is fish but will also eat birds, reptiles and mammals (such as muskrats, rabbits and more). They are also known to steal food from other birds of prey and are active scavengers.
Redfoxes are the most widespread wild carnivore worldwide. They can live in a wide variety of habitats: desert, artic tundra, and urban neighborhoods.
Omnivorous: eats small rodents, other mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and fish as well as many types of plants including berries; acorns; and grasses.
The Virginia Opposum is the only species of marsupial (pouched mammals) in the US. Female opossums use their pouch to carry up to 20 babies! They have 50 teeth, which they show when feeling threatened. They will also “play opossum” and pass out under extreme stress.
oportunistic omnivorous scavenger; will eat small vertebrates, insects, plant matter, fruits, and seeds. They even eat ticks!
Red-tailed Hawks are large, stocky, broad winged hawks. They have a dark brown back with white chest and legs. Most birds have a “belt” of brown streaked feathers across the lower belly. The rusty red tail appears in adults in their second year.
Ambush predator; hunts from a perch or by soaring over open fields. Commonly seen along roadsides looking for their prey. When they see a small mammal (such as mice, squirrels, rabbits or groundhogs) they swoop down quickly and catch their prey using their strong feet. Occasionally will eat birds such as pheasants, as well as snakes and carrion.
Porcupines have around 30,000 quills – but they can’t shoot them! Porcupines defend themselves by escaping into trees, having black-and-white warning coloration, and emitting a foul-smelling musk. Quills act as a defensive shield against predators, and porcupines can drive quills into the body of an attacker, but they cannot launch quills through the air!
Herbivore; will eat bark and twigs of maples, ashes, beechwood, and birch trees; also eats raspberries, grasses, and apples.
Great Horned Owls have large ear-like tufts (“horns”), yellow eyes, and a white chin patch, with gray to brown coloration overall. They are primarily nocturnal but can be found hunting during daylight hours. Their deep, hooting voice (which sounds like they’re saying “who’se awake -me too) is common in forests at night.
Hunts from a perch for small mammals, birds, snakes,
amphibians and fish; preferred prey are rabbits, but are strong enough to capture prey much larger than themselves. Lacking a well-developed sense of smell, Great Horned Owls are common predators of skunks.
If you are interested in giving a gift to our animals, take a look at our Outdoor Discovery Center Animal Enrichment Wish List. These items provide unique and safe “toys” that encourage natural animal behaviors. We strive to provide the best environment for our animals and your gifts will help us continue to do just that!