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Out and About in West Virginia: West Virginia Wildlife Center

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FRENCH CREEK -

The West Virginia Wildlife Center is a modern zoological facility displaying native and introduced wildlife.

Operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section, the Wildlife Center is dedicated to presenting visitors a realistic and factual understanding of West Virginia's wildlife.

"In 1923 when they bought it, they originally bought the place to raise animals to stock for the wild. In 1986 is when they changed the name to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center," said Kenny Hall, wildlife aid.

Woodland wildlife can be viewed along a wheelchair-accessible, 1.25-mile-long interpretive trail through a mature hardwood forest.

"Everything here is either native to the state or has been introduced to the state. You got elk, buffalo, mountain lion, wolves, otters, of course deer, bobcat, fox and bear, coyote, and of course a variety of birds still on exhibit," Hall said.

Interpretive signs help visitors learn more about each animal's life history, biology and its relationship with humans.

"In the winter months we're improving our walk trail our hiking trail our amphitheater. The amphitheater had to be redone a little bit. French Creek Freddie and Groundhog Day got a little bigger, we couldn't handle right there on the walkway trail where his house is, we actually moved it out to the amphitheater," Hall said.

Hall said the admission fees stays with the wildlife center, and they've kept it very reasonable for families to be able to come out on weekends or holidays.

Its $3 for adults and $1.50 for kids, groups are welcomed at a reasonable rate too, just call ahead.

The two major events the wildlife center has is West Virginia day and its annual spook night, which is the last Saturday in October.

Don't forget Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day. French Creek Freddie will be making an appearance to tell us if we'll have an early Spring or if it's six more weeks of Winter.

The West Virginia Wildlife Center is located in Upshur County in north central West Virginia, 12 miles south of Buckhannon on State Route 20.

Call 304-924-6211 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit online.

If you have any suggestions for things to go "out and about" in West Virginia, email jschrock@wboy.com.