UPDATE: As of Friday, May 8, until further notice, the WNC Nature Center is still temporarily closed to the public. The Nature Center is working closely with the City of Asheville to determine the safest possible date to reopen. This will most likely take place during Phase 3 of North Carolina’s Stay at Home order. 

Open 361 Days a Year: 10:00am – 5:00pm, last entry 4:30pm

Meet Our Animals

The Animals of the WNC Nature Center

The WNC Nature Center is home to 60 species of wildlife that live or have lived in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Learn more about the natural history of each species and the unique biographies of the wildlife that call the Nature Center home.

Most of our animals have been permanently injured or have been imprinted, meaning they have no fear of humans and never learned the skills they would need to survive in the wild. Others have never known a life in the wild or are endangered species that are part of the Special Survial Plan, a breeding and management plan developed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to ensure that we have a sustained population of endangered animals and can conserve them for future generations.

American Black Bear

American Black Bear

Generally shy and reclusive animals, black bears avoid human contact and are not normally aggressive. Two black bears, Uno and Ursa, live at the Nature Center.

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Red Wolf Karma

American Red Wolf

Red wolves are highly endangered species that has been eliminated from almost all of its natural range. Our breeding pair of red wolves, Karma and Garnet, are part of the AZA Species Survival Plan.

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Angora Goat

Angora Goat

Angoras are primarily browsing animals and thrive best where there is a good cover of brush, weeds, and grass.    Disliking the rain, Angoras are well adapted to a dry, mild climate.

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Barn Owls

Barn Owl

The common Barn Owl is a species known by many other names; names like the Golden Owl, Ghost Owl and Monkey Owl are just a few. They have a very unique flight style and they can hover in the air for as long as a minute.

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Black Rat Snake

Black Rat Snake

Black rat snakes are excellent for pest control, preying mostly on rodents. They are most active during the day, but still prefer to stay nearby protective cover

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Missy the Bobcat

Bobcat

Rarely spotted by the human eye, the elusive bobcat roams Western North Carolina. Look for Missy on her habitat at the Nature Center!

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Corn Snake

Corn Snake

The name “corn snake” can be attributed to the scale pattern on their belly, which resembles Native American corn, and their tendency to frequent corn cribs to eat visiting mice. Like other rat snakes, corn snakes are non-venomous and can subdue their prey by constriction.

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Cotswold Sheep

Cotswold Sheep

Called “Gentle Giants,” Cotswold sheep are one of the largest breeds that come from the hills of Cotswold in England.  Noted for their long, coarse fleece with naturally wavy curls, the Cotswold is a dual-use breed, providing both meat and wool.

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Cougar

Cougar

Cougars are swift runners, agile climbers, and great swimmers with agile bodies, cougars are a top predator.  They are solitary night  hunters that have excellent eyesight and superb hearing.

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Coyote

Coyote

Clever, mischievous, and often misunderstood, coyotes are highly adaptable creatures found all over North America. Bea and Barney are our resident coyotes at the Nature Center.

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Box Turtle

Eastern Box Turtle

The Eastern box turtle is the designated state reptile of North Carolina and is found throughout the state. They have high-domed carapaces (top shell), and hinged plastrons (bottom shell) which allows them to pull their legs and head into their shell, like closing a box.

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Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern Screech Owl

Eastern screech owls are one of the smallest owls.  Besides their size, they are noted for their large yellow eyes and ear tufts, which do not aid in hearing.

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Gray Fox

Gray Fox

Gray foxes are the forest fox of the eastern United States. When you visit their habitats at the Nature Center, be sure to look up to see Rocket, Remi, and Hunter!

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Gray Wolf

Gray Wolf

Gray wolves are highly social animals and they develop strong bonds within their pack.  Members of the pack communicate with each  other using a variety of sounds, body postures, facial expressions, and sent marking.

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Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Barred owls are masters of vocalizations and the standard call is often translated as sounding like “Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?”. They are widely distributed in North America, southern Canada, the mountains of Mexico, and Central America.

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Meatloaf the Hellbender

Hellbender

Growing up to 2 feet long and weighing up to 2 pounds, the eastern hellbender is the world’s third largest salamander. Hellbenders take residence under rocks and if their homes are disturbed, it is very difficult for them to establish a new territory.

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Mostly the Least Weasel

Least Weasel

The smallest carnivore at only six inches long, the least weasel is a brave hunter often taking down animals five to 10 times its weight. The Nature Center is home to one least weasel, named Mostly.

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Nigerian Dwarf Goats

Nigerian Dwarf Goat

The Nigerian dwarf goat is a miniature dairy breed of West African ancestry. These goats are popular as hobby goats due to their easy maintenance and small stature.

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Oberhasli Goats

Oberhasli Goat

The Oberhasli goat is a medium sized goat and they can weigh up to 150 pounds. They are known for their gentle disposition.  The females, called does, are an excel-lent milk producers with the record of 4665 lbs.

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Sassy the Raccoon

Raccoon

Raccoons enjoy searching shallow waters for small aquatic animals like crayfish and freshwater mussels. They also eat a variety of fruits, berries, and seeds.

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Red foxes

Red Fox

Red foxes use their sensitive hearing and stealth to locate and sneak up on their prey. One red fox, Toby, resides at the Nature Center.

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Leafa the Red Panda

Red Panda

Western North Carolina’s climate and ecosystem is almost identical to the lower mountain forests of Central Asia where red pandas currently live.

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Red tailed hawks

Red Tailed Hawk

Red-tailed hawks are diurnal hunters who swoop down upon their prey in a steep dive.  Hawks, along with other birds of prey, are pest control specialists, regulating numbers of destructive rodents and other small animals.

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Sicilian Donkeys

Sicilian Donkey

Sicilian donkeys have distinctive cross-shaped markings along their backs and are known for their sweet affectionate disposition. They are used to protect livestock from predators and are often used in rehabilitation work with people with disabilities.  

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Elvis the Skunk

Striped Skunk

Striped skunks are about the size of a domestic cat, weighing from 2.5 to 10 pounds. Typically, striped skunks have a dark black body with a bright white stripe which begins on the head and splits into two parallel stripes down the back and onto the tail.

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Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake

Despite their reputation, however, rattlesnakes prefer not to bite. Their initial defense mechanisms are to either lay motionless, camouflage with their surroundings, flee or warn off predators by “rattling.”

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Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey vultures are commonly found throughout North America in a variety of habitats. They locate their food through sight and scent, an unusual adaptation since most birds have a poorly developed sense of smell.

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White tailed deer

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed deer are found in all habitats from high mountain forests to coastal marshes.  They are crepuscular browsers, feeding on leaves, buds, and twigs of a variety of plants, mostly around dawn and dusk.

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