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Wild Center reopens today, outdoors

From front, Wild Center Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliff leads state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assemblyman Billy Jones and others on the center’s Wild Walk in August 2018. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — The Wild Center will reopen today after its annual month-long closure for spring cleaning. The nature-based science center in Tupper Lake will be outdoor-only for now.

Open elements include the Wild Walk, the Forest Music experience and hiking trails across the 115-acre campus. The indoor portion (restrooms excepted) remains temporarily closed, including the theater, gift shop and cafe.

Wild Center naturalists will hold live animal encounters and drop-in educational programs throughout the day in spots around the outdoor campus. Visitors can take a behind-the-scenes look at the popular otters as they lounge in their outdoor play yard, or talk with a naturalist to learn about some of the resident ambassador animals, including a porcupine and a raven.

The Wild Center will also maintain its COVID-19 pandemic rules and cleaning protocols, including timed ticket reservations, limited capacity and a face mask requirement. Timed reservations may be made online, by phone or email prior to arrival.

For the next four weeks, open hours will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. From Memorial Day (May 31) to Labor Day (Sept. 6), the center will be open seven days a week.

New this year, The Wild Center is partnering with two different nationally known artists who will create different outdoor sculptures on the campus.

The first is a collaboration with Tupper Arts to bring Adirondack-based artist Barney Bellinger to the center. Well known for his rustic furniture, photography, oil painting and sculptural metal work, this new outdoor exhibit will feature large sculptures made out of found materials such as salvaged steel, copper and iron. Inspired by the Adirondacks and giving new life to discarded materials, Bellinger will have a selection on display throughout the Wild Center’s grounds beginning in mid-June.

In August, stick sculpture artist Patrick Dougherty will be on site to create pieces by bending, interweaving and fastening together twigs found in the Adirondacks. Volunteers will assist with the process, and guests will be able to watch Dougherty’s “Stickwork” both in real time and from a livestream camera on the Wild Center’s website, in addition to viewing the final product in person in late summer.

Returning for another summer, naturalist-led canoe trips take guests through the Raquette River’s Oxbow as they explore different marsh habitats. Canoe trips will run daily from Friday, May 28 (Memorial Day weekend) to Monday, Sept. 6 (Labor Day weekend) and are available by reservation for an additional fee.

Visitors may access digital maps, audio tours and self-led scavenger hunts through their Wild Center mobile app.

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