JACKSON -- Even though the temperature was hovering near 90 degrees Sunday afternoon, a couple of river otters didn’t seem to mind.
They were frolicking in their own pond in the wild animal habitat at Dauset Trails Nature Center.
River otters are a favorite of visitors “because they are so active,” said Naturalist Wren Lindsey. “And everyone loves our roly-poly (American black) bear.”
The otters are joined by more than 40 wild animals along the Animal Trail at Dauset -- a private, nonprofit center near Indian Springs State Park in Butts County.
The wild animals end up at Dauset for three main reasons, Lindsey said.
“They have been injured in some way, they’ve been orphaned or they are considered a nuisance animal,” she said. “So they are all nonreleasable.”
Who’s guilty of being a nuisance?
“One of the nuisances is river otters because they love to fish and they love ponds and combine the two and they will clean out a fish pond,” Lindsey said. “And the beaver is another nuisance animal,” as they will dam up a creek or river.
Her main job is educating schoolchildren whether they come to the center or she goes to a school “teaching them about the animals and their different habitats.”
Some of the newest animals at the center include a second grey fox that came to the center after getting hit by a car, she lost a leg in the accident, Lindsey said. Two Mississippi kites -- a male and female --were added about six months ago.
“We’ve never had them before,” she said.
Some of the other wild animals included several kinds of owls, including barred owls, tiny screech owls and barn owls. It has a cougar.
The center doesn’t just have wild animals, it features chickens, roosters, goats, cows, pigs and “a ginormous donkey” at its barnyard exhibit,” Lindsey said. The Wonder Room includes alligators, turtles and snakes. People can feed bream, catfish, turtles and ducks from a wooden bridge over one of the ponds.
The center also features several trails, including a tree ID trail, more than 17 miles of hike and biking trails and people can bring their own horse and ride 10 miles of trails with a creek crossing.
Last year Dauset Trails hired a horticulturist who has been planting more than 100 different azaleas throughout the park, Lindsey said.
The center, which is open every day except certain holidays, gets visitors even during hot Georgia summers.
“We are a shaded park,” Lindsey said. “So we have visitors really all day long.”
To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.