The Salato Wildlife Education Center in Frankfort will reopen for the season Feb. 14 with fun new features for kids, adults and the young-at-heart.

Kids can discover just how large a bald eagle’s nest can be as they climb into a new life-sized replica. Two giant rulers demonstrate the average size of a bald eagle nest and the dimensions of the biggest nest ever discovered a whopping 10 feet wide by 20 feet high.

Salato’s resident striped skunk has a new outdoor exhibit area so visitors can see it more often. Don’t worry, though. It can’t spray people with its own kind of perfume.

Visitors can also witness the education center’s newest exhibit as a work in progress. The Bluegrass Prairie Exhibit will include a bobwhite quail aviary. Kids can pretend they’re quail as they hatch from a 3-foot-tall egg and hide in grass tunnels from a giant hawk. This new exhibit is scheduled to open in April.

Indoors, the popular summer Conservation Camp exhibit has been reinstalled. Kids of all ages can get a taste of the camp experience by pretending to fish, boat, shoot bows or rifles, study nature and practice survival skills.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources operates three summer camps for kids in grades 4-6. Parents can learn more about these camps and pick up applications while their kids play.

During its annual winter closure, the Salato Center underwent additional changes to make the building more environmentally friendly and reduce its carbon footprint. Compact fluorescent and LED bulbs replaced the old incandescent and halogen lights. The heating and air conditioning system received modifications to make it more efficient.

New and long-time visitors also will be pleasantly surprised by what they find awaiting them outside at Salato’s grounds.

Volunteers from Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown spent numerous hours helping build exhibits and repairing a stream liner in the bobcat exhibit. Toyota volunteers also planted trees and shrubs, worked on trail maintenance, mulched around the grounds and removed invasive plants all changes that will enhance the visitor’s enjoyment of the Salato Center.

Donations to the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation helped fund the new Bluegrass Prairie Exhibit. Employees of Jackson Construction and General Contracting volunteered their time to help build the aviary.

The Salato Center has a variety of native animals for the public to see, including a black bear, an eagle, bobcats, elk, deer, bison, snakes and fish. The center has numerous indoor exhibits and miles of hiking trails open to the public. Fishing is available at two lakes. While some programs may require a registration fee, general admission to the Salato Center is free.

For more information, call 1-800-858-1549, ext. 4445. Learn more about upcoming events at the Salato Center on the Internet at The Salato Center, operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, is located at the department’s headquarters at #1 Sportsman’s Lane (formerly #1 Game Farm Road), off U.S. 60 in Frankfort, 1.5 miles west of U.S. 127. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. The center is closed Sundays, Mondays and state holidays.

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