Grandfather hosts Animal Birthday Party

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Article Published: Jun. 6, 2013 | Modified: Jun. 13, 2013
Grandfather hosts Animal Birthday Party

An Animal Birthday Party participant helps make enrichments for the habitat animals at Grandfather Mountain. Children get the opportunity to make these enrichment themselves and then see habitat staff members give the enrichments to the animals to enjoy.

Photo by Taylor Adams

June 12 marks a special day at Grandfather Mountain.

The Grandfather habitat staff has prepared a birthday celebration for the animals of the mountain, providing programs and games for the mountain’s guests, as well as birthday treats for Grandfather’s furry and feathered residents.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Christie Tipton, animal habitat staff member. “The kids enjoy it, and animals really love it.”

The habitat staff has planned a full day of activities on the mountain. Children can make a birthday card for the animals, which will be put on display in the underwater viewing area of the otter habitat. There will be games, prizes and the opportunity to receive a free slice of birthday cake.

Guests will also get the opportunity to test their knowledge about all the species of animals at Grandfather Mountain for prizes at the Nature Museum. Guests can enter the contest by submitting their entry in the museum any time between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Grandfather is offering a behind-the-scenes tour from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at a special rate of $20 per person. Guests will get to see where the cougars and otters sleep overnight, meet black bears that are not commonly on display, learn the ins and outs of what it takes to care for the animals year round, observe a training session and learn about why the animals call Grandfather Mountain home. Participants must wear closed-toe shoes and make a reservation in advance by calling (828) 733-8715 or registering in the Museum Gift Shop on June 12.

At 11 a.m., visitors can meet at the Let it Rain Picnic Shelter to play the Bat vs. Moth game. In this activity, children will learn aspects of the mountain’s ecosystem and food chain, such as echolocation, through a “Marco Polo”-style game.

At 12:30 p.m., guests can meet in front of the auditorium for an “Animal Encounter.” During the program, the mountain’s staff displays live screech and a barred owls, a corn snake and a Virginia opossum, discussing each animal and how they survive in the wild.

Guests can join animal habitat staff members in front of the Fudge Shop at 1 p.m. for a “Keeper Talk.” Participants will learn about each of the different types of animals that call the mountain home. Visitors can also have a free piece of birthday cake any time between 1 and 4 p.m. at Mildred’s Grill.

At 1:30 p.m., children are encouraged to join staff members at the Let it Rain Picnic Shelter to help make special birthday enrichments for the animals. Enrichments could be as simple as a piecrust full of fruit for a bear or as wild as an artificial deer made of boxes and stuffed with meat for the cougars.
The final scheduled activity of the animal birthday is at 2:15 p.m. when the winners of the contest will be announced in the Nature Museum.

Winners, along with one family member, will be given a behind-the-scenes tour of the animal habitats. Immediately after the drawing, habitat animals receive their enrichments, and guests are encouraged to watch each animal receive its special treats.

“We do enrichments every day for the animals,” Tipton said. “But the animal birthday enrichments are extra special things that we know every animal will love. Everyone deserves to be spoiled on their birthday.”

All birthday party events, except the behind-the-scenes tour, are included in regular park admission. A full schedule of the day’s activities can be found at

The Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established to preserve Grandfather Mountain, operate the nature park sustainably in the public interest, provide an exceptional experience for guests and inspire them to be good stewards of the earth’s resources. For more information, visit or call (800) 468-7325.

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