Featured Local Attractions
Jul 6, 2018
Type: Nature Center with Live Animal Exhibits and Nature Trails
Location: 711 Sandtown Road, Savannah, GA 31410
Cost: $5 Adult (18+); $3 Child (4 – 17) Senior (65+), Student and Military; FREE Infant (0 – 3)
Reviewed by: Drew Pawley
Just a short 1-hour drive from Hilton Head is the Oatland Island Wildlife Center, located just outside of Savannah. A very reasonable $5 admission provides a very affordable day out for all to enjoy.
From the main Welcome Center, you follow the animal paw prints painted on the road to one of several hiking trails filled with exhibits.
The first animals you’ll see on this trail is a Barred Owl and a couple of Screech Owls. The Barred Owl was to feature later in the day for a special “Live Animal Encounter” in the Welcome Center. These educational ‘encounters’ cost an additional $2.00 and provide a more up close and personal look at some of the many animals. As I approached the aviary, one of the keepers was attempting to coax the owl onto his gloved hand, the owl had other ideas. It was entertaining for those visitors around to witness it. Next, on the trail, there was a marsh area where the alligators were being housed. A bridge over the exhibit afforded good views of the ‘gators.
Continuing on through the woods and I eventually reached Cougar Crossing, the Cougar exhibit. The viewing area was shaded and when arrived the Cougar was taking a little siesta. Continuing on the trail, which had helpful signs pointing out the flora of interest, a boardwalk over a salt marsh, led to the Bobcat exhibit which, unfortunately at the time of my visit, was empty because the Bobcats were entertaining folk in the “Animal Encounter” back at the Welcome Center.
Moving right along I reached the Fox exhibit. However, due to the excessive damage from hurricanes Irma and Matthew, the foxes would not be on display for a while. next up was an exhibit called the Georgia Farm. There one can see typical farm animals such as pigs, chickens, and sheep among others. Also at this point was a convenient beverage vending machine and restrooms. Adjacent to the farm was a kindergarten classroom/play area.
On next to the Birds of Prey. These magnificent raptors, included Red-tailed Hawks, Black Vultures, Owls and Bald Eagles.
Next up, the Deer exhibit. The buck’s antlers were still growing since this was the middle of June. Bullfrogs could be seen and heard in the pond.
Continuing down the path, I reached the Heritage Village. This ‘village’ had some interesting old-time farm tools including. There were also a few cabins spread across the area and even an outhouse that one could use when nature calls.
After leaving the village and taking a right, there was a larger pond known as Ledbetter pond. Her you can buy fish food for a quarter and feed bass, crappie, sunfish (bream) and others. On an island in the middle of the pond, there were plenty of herons and wood storks roosting here and there.
The Wolf exhibit was next. Yes, Wolves! . Hard to believe since they are mostly seen in the northernmost part of the country. They were active when I came in, with one of them digging holes under some logs to get a cool resting place. Flying squirrels and armadillo were another of the attractions at this stop.
The final exhibits before returning to the Welcome Center was the Bison/Buffalo exhibit Gopher tortoises garden.
I did not want to leave without checking out the Cougar so I headed back to Cougar Crossing and found him awake but still laying under the structure he was before. Back to the welcome center to check out the gift shop before heading home from a very enjoyable day.
This attraction is full of wildlife, some of which are native to the area and some not. Wolves, Buffalo, and Cougars are definitely not a common sight here in the Lowcountry. Oatland Island Wildlife Center is an ideal educational center for field trips from schools as they have classrooms and programs that cater specifically to school groups. It is also perfect for parents who would like to get the kids out amongst nature and away from their iPads and the Internet for a few hours!
The setting of Oatland Wildlife center is really beautiful. I would recommend sunscreen and bug spray as well as a picnic lunch as there was no food available on site.
Check out their website: www.oatlandisland.org for full details and upccoming special events.
Contact: P = (912) 395-1212 W = www.oatlandisland.org
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