MEDICINE PARK — With a snip of a yellow ribbon, the latest major exhibits opened Saturday at the Medicine Park Aquarium & Natural Sciences Center.
Greeting the crowd of visitors were the two newest show animals: The Bobcat Bungalow where Bonnie the bobcat reclined in the shade and showed off a belly as round as her ball lying nearby in the dirt, and the Coyote Corner where Moriah the coyote skittered her trail inside the enclosure.
“We’re here to celebrate a very, very grand opening,” said Doug Kemper, executive director.
The animals have spent the prior decade at the Fort Sill Natural Resources Division where they were bottle-fed from infancy by Mark Maclin. He was on hand to celebrate the opening of the animals’ new home. The division reached out last year to Kemper to take in the wild pair after being hit with budget cuts.
According to Kemper, although exhibits for coyotes and bobcats was something planned among the 25 major exhibits that have been designed, they arrived sooner than initially planned.
“We said, ‘well, we’re not going to turn down an opportunity,” he said. “We’ve opened up almost a dozen new exhibits in the last year and a half; we’ve been here for three years.”
Kemper highlighted the facility’s staff, especially Nicole Hill, the director of education. Her role is to coordinate school and children’s group trips to the facility.
“Which is our whole deal,” he said. “Education.”
That mission is part of what Marilyn Dollar-Janasko and her husband Ted believe in with sponsoring the completion of the two animal enclosures. The couple had been thinking of a way to remember and honor her late-sister, Carolyn Dollar, through education. After considering a scholarship, Marilyn said it would only help one person a year. This choice fit the bill.
“This way we could memorialize her and everybody gets a chance to see it, which is a better thing,” she said. “This was a very big blessing to us. We found an article about this in the paper and it was God speaking to us.”
As the crowd moved from one enclosure to another, Kemper reminded everyone that there’s more to come.
“Keep coming back,” he said.