Atlanta's Duck Pond cracking down on geese

One of the last places it was safe for families to feed ducks falls for the frenzy to eliminate Canada geese.

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Atlanta’s Wildlife Hosptial

Flirty Arigato - SW Bobcat - L. rufus baileyi (Merriam)

Just 20-30  minutes south-east of Atlanta, wildlife rehabilitator Michael Ellis is nursing some dwarf baby squirrels, teaching a great-horned owl independence and giving permanent shelter to a couple bobcats. His outfit, AWARE (Atlanta Wild Animal Rescue Effort), is the biggest wildlife rehab center so close to such a big city  I’ve seen.

Ellis, whose been rehabbing wildlife for two decades, says having big Route 20 nearby is crucial. You ride a few miles off the highway through farmland and the Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area and you’re at Aware, which looks like a house with an extensive kennel system. If you serve animals, why  be near a city? Most wildlife injuries involve people (or their cars or cats). But more importantly, the best way to help animals is to teach people how not to kill them.

“I could spend 45 days saving one opossum or 45 minutes with one class of 30 kids and end up saving 1,000 animals over their lifetime,” Ellis says. The grim truth of wildlife rehab is that–except for maybe a few endangered species–its broad impact on animal populations is pretty much nothing. Squirrels and starlings are in no danger of going extinct. “But it makes a big difference to that one animal,” says Ellis. And each of the animal treated impacting the people who find them or learn about them at the center. That’s why Aware wants to reach every kid in Atlanta.

A few of those that can’t make in the wild live out their time at

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A Trip to Georgia’s Kangaroo Conservation Center

Kangaroo Conservation Center, Dawsonville, GAOn a farm 90 minutes north of Atlanta, hundreds of kangaroos hop in fields as if they were in their native Australia. The “Conservation Center” is the largest outpost of kangaroos outside Australia and a major source of zoo kangaroos. How much conservation is really on any one’s mind is a big question. People come because it’s fun to see herds of kangaroos on American soil, some up close.

You’ll start out seeing an Australian greenhouse full of birds and tiny rat kangaroos. Then it’s onto a tram tour, where you see three kinds of kangaroos behind tall chain link fences. Most kangaroos here happily live in natural social groups and with minimal human interference. After that there’s barn show, where you’ll get close to the tamer kangaroos and other Australian animals. You’ll learn, for instance, that their pouches aren’t as big and open-hanging as the cartoons make you think.

Afterwards, you can walk among the kangroo pens or see some other animals. Don’t miss the Dik-Dik, an African antelope who wants to mark you with a tar-like substance from a gland under his eye.

Where to See More Animals Down South

To see more animals go to