Raising hellbenders

RTPI to host ‘Hellbender Housewarming Party’

Photo submitted to Times Observer Hellbender.

In May of 2017, two Eastern Hellbenders named Oneka and Tweeg came to Roger Tory Peterson Institute in Jamestown, N.Y., from the Buffalo Zoo to serve as animal ambassadors and help educate people of all ages about this incredible species.

The Buffalo Zoo donated the hellbenders’ enclosure to ensure a smooth transition to RTPI. However, soon after their arrival, RTPI staff identified the need to upgrade their habitat in order to provide them with more room to grow in the coming years and to better facilitate opportunities for public interaction. Thanks to several generous donors and a successful fundraising campaign, RTPI was able to construct a new hellbender habitat which was completed in the fall of 2018. Finishing touches have recently been put on the hellbender display, and RTPI would like to invite the public to a special evening event to celebrate Oneka and Tweeg’s new home from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 29.

Activities will include:

Viewing the new hellbender habitat;

Salamander cookie sale;

Feeding demonstration;

Basket raffle and mini raffles, which will include items themed around hellbenders and clean water. Tickets will be $2 per ticket or 3 tickets for $5. Kids can get in on the raffle action as well and purchase $1 tickets for a chance to win a variety of items.

Learn about opportunities to serve as a volunteer hellbender caretaker.

Adult admission will be $10, children 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. Proceeds from the cookie and raffle ticket sales will be used towards recurring food costs for the hellbenders. Call (716) 665-2473 for more information. The Roger Tory Peterson Institute is located at 311 Curtis Street in Jamestown.