Meet the Audubon Center Animals
Ever seen a turtle in Prospect Park and wish you could say hello and learn all about it? What about a funny-looking insect, or even a spider? At Prospect Park Alliance’s Audubon Center, families can do just that with Animal Encounter programming, presented by Macy’s, every Thursday through Sunday through October, and on weekends in November, as well as on school holidays.
This program is an opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal with some of the critters that call Prospect Park home, and even some that you would have to travel the globe to see in their natural habitat! Watch as Alliance Naturalists feed the animals, ask questions, and learn about the diverse ecology of the park, all while creating the next generation of park stewards who will care for and maintain this vital green space.
Meet our black rat snake, Chester! Chester is an albino, which means he lacks pigmentation in his eyes and skin. Black rat snakes can be found in eastern and central forests of the U.S. and Canada, but don’t worry: these slithery serpents are actually quite shy, and will typically freeze up or retreat when seeing humans.
While Chester isn’t venomous, he’ll sometimes shake his tail in leaves to mimic a rattlesnake when he feels threatened! Isn’t he clever?
Visit the Audubon Center to meet our red-eared sliders! This semi-aquatic turtle can be seen throughout Prospect Park, but not because it’s native to our area. While these terrapins are originally from the Southern U.S. and Northern Mexico, they can be found in large numbers in Brooklyn’s Backyard, as a result of being abandoned by pet owners.
They get their name from the red stripe along their ears and ability to slip and slide off rocks and logs into the water.
Did that stick just walk? Not quite: this critter is actually an Indian walking stick. With this stealthy camouflage, Indian walking sticks hide in plain site from dangerous predators, such as birds, spiders and even reptiles.
Did you know? The Indian walking stick population consists almost entirely of females who can lay fertile eggs without the presence of males. Talk about girl power!
This eastern river cooter is one of our native turtles in Brooklyn’s Backyard. These freshwater turtles love to hang out in the Prospect Park Lake, and you can often see them soaking up some rays on stumps or rocks jutting out of the water. Sometimes these turtles can be seen far away from the Lake, but have no fear: they are most likely looking for a nesting place for their eggs.
With bright colors and geometric patterns, the eastern river cooter received its scientific name from the Greek words for “well arranged and beautiful.”
Hisssss! If you hear that sound at the Audubon Center, you might just be listening to the Madagascar hissing cockroach! This creepy crawly is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 2–3 inches in maturity. Originally from Madagascar, the hissing cockroach makes its noise by forcing air through its breathing pores, which can be found on its abdomen. The Madagascar hissing cockroach is believed to be the only insect in the world that can hiss in this manner.
While they may not look cute and cuddly, these insects are non aggressive and do not bite. Are you brave enough to give it a handshake?
Say hello to our Rose-hair tarantula from South America! Tarantulas are big and hairy and are even kept as pets. These arachnids can sometimes bite when frightened. While their bite is not deadly, it can be painful, so whatever you do, don’t say BOO! to a tarantula.
Want to get to know these critters even more? Visit the Audubon Center for Animal Encounter, Thursdays through Sundays. Animal Encounter is presented in partnership with Macy’s.