MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) –– In Montgomery County, a wildlife center and animal sanctuary are tucked inside woods in Abington: Briar Bush Nature Center.
Katie McAfee is the animal curator and educator.
“We do lots of programs at the nature center, where people will come out and visit us,” Katie said.
Not only is this a nature center, it’s an animal sanctuary. Meisha met one of the permanent avian residents, Ralph.
“He is a turkey vulture,” Katie said. “He came to us with a broken wing, and so he lives with us here at Briar Bush because he wouldn’t be able to survive in the wild.”
Outside are 12 acres of greenery and a mile of trails.
“This is beautiful out here,” Meisha said as she strolled with Mark Fallon, senior naturalist at Briar Bush Nature Center.
Meisha asked, “I know we’re passing that house out there. What is that?”
“Briar Bush’s Griscom Bird Observatory,” Mark said. The observatory is named after Everett and Florence Griscom, who first bought this land in the early 1900s to preserve wildlife.
The Griscoms were avid birders. “Our origins are really about birds,” Mark said. “There are 80 to 90 different bird species that come through here.”
Walk the trails and you can see other creatures stirring in spring. “We saw garter snakes are coming out of hibernation,” Mark said. A man-made pond has frogs and native painted turtles.
For children, “we have a nature playscape here as well,” Mark said, “which is simply sort of an outdoor area with water and sand and rocks and dirt, and features for them to crawl and jump and balance.”
The indoor wildlife center is filled with a menagerie of creatures for education.
“Our animal collection that we use for education is largely surrendered pets,” Katie said. “We do a lot of education, not just about turtles and tortoises and vultures in general, but we do a lot of education about what it takes to take care of a pet.”
Karl the bearded dragon was one of the surrendered pets. “I can’t even tell you how in love I am,” Meisha said as Karl perched on her shoulder.
Karl had friends: “This is Rosalind, the Chilean rose-haired tarantula,” Katie said.
Bugs get love, too. “I want to show you how much we love our creepy crawly creatures here at Briar Bush Nature Center,” Katie said, then planted a big smooch on a Madagascar hissing cockroach. (Check out the video: Meisha did too.
Briar Bush Nature Center is at 1212 Edge Hill Road, Abington, PA 19001. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Abington residents can visit free. Non-members pay $3 for adults, $2 for children ages 2 through 17. Children under 2 get in free.
Their website is https://www.briarbush.org/