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Op-Ed: Bear Mountain Zoo provides a home for rehabilitated wildlife Special

By Leigh Goessl     Jul 10, 2012 in Travel
Bear Mountain - The Bear Mountain Zoo is not the stereotypical image you'll likely think of when you envision the word "zoo". The zoo does not exhibit exotic animals, but houses animals local to the Hudson Valley, N.Y. and surrounding vicinity.
Many of the native animals residing at the Bear Mountain Zoo have either been orphaned or injured. It is not a large zoo, but has grown some over the decades. This charismatic zoo has many exhibits of animals such as deer, a fox, wild turkeys, various types of birds, fish, turtles, a bald eagle, ducks and swans.
This bald eagle has a permanent wing injury.
This bald eagle has a permanent wing injury.
A key attraction for several decades has been the bear's den where brown bears live. During my recent visit two bear were visible, but in years past, this reporter has seen up to four or five bear at once. However, since my last visit, it appears the bears have dozens of new roommates.
The zoo is located in a primarily wooded area overlooking the Hudson River, which is one of the many attractive draws to Bear Mountain. The zoo is constructed in natural surroundings. While some of the animals are caged, many of the embellishments in the cages and open exhibits are constructed of natural materials, including running stream water.
As you wander the trails various plaques are visible that indicate the kinds of trees and plants along the way, each providing a short description; some of the plaques might offer a bit of history or trivia as well. The park caretakers pay special attention to these small details to enhance visitors' zoo experience.
Wandering through the Trailside Museum and Zoo, a new exhibit could be observed being built. This new area will house coyotes, according to a sign posted.
Over the years a few of the animals living at Bear Mountain have changed, but the zoo's mission appears to remain the same. A pamphlet answers the question "Why can't the animals be released back into the wild?"
Trailside Museums and Zoo is a home for rehabilitated wild animals. Many of them have permanent injuries that severely limit their ability to survive in the wild. Others were raised in captivity, so their parents never taught them to find for themselves.
In addition to the animals, there are other exhibits located within the zoo's boundaries. There are several small museums to enhance a visit, showcasing regional history and geology.
Additionally, the Hudson Valley region was a key location during the American Revolutionary War, and a portion of Fort Clinton, built in Oct. 1777, was located on what is today, Bear Mountain, and parts of the foundation remain.
Also, within the zoo's boundaries stands statute which was constructed as a tribute to the late poet, Walt Whitman.
For years, the zoo has been free to visitors, (except for a period of time when it charged .50 for children and $1.00 for adults). Today, the zoo has an unmanned box that simply asks for donations to help support the zoo's operations, including food, medical care, supplies and upkeep. (There is an $8 parking fee to park on Bear Mountain property).
Bear Mountain is open year-round and offers many seasonal recreational activities, as recently reported by Digital Journal. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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