[caption id="attachment_1281" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Photo Courtesy of the WNC Nature Center Photo Courtesy of the WNC Nature Center[/caption]   March 12, 2014 March 20, 2014 As the gray skies clear and the temperatures warm, the flowers aren’t the only ones welcoming the sunshine this March near the Willow Winds Cabins in Asheville. At the Western North Carolina Nature Center, a diverse menagerie is waking from their winter naps. The Nature Center has over 40 acres featuring the diverse wildlife native to our mountains, from hawks and wolves to black bears and snakes. For the youngest visitors, a special preschool presentation of Barnyard Buddies welcomes the little ones to learn about life on a farm on March 12th. Activities will include indoor games and crafts, outdoor walking tours and animal introductions. Children can experience farm animals any day at the Nature Center, along with a new Arachnid Adventure playground and bog turtle play area. [caption id="attachment_1282" align="alignleft" width="274"]Courtesy of WNC Nature Center Courtesy of WNC Nature Center[/caption] Providing an educational introduction to mountain animals, the center has a special consideration for conservation. They are an active leader in programs to save the native species of red fox and elk. On March 20th, they will hold a presentation detailing conservation efforts for mountain elk that will included a field trip to the Chattahoochee area to observe elk that have been re-introduced into the wild. The red fox can be viewed at the Nature Center, along with the gray fox, cougar, bobcat and coyote. [caption id="attachment_1283" align="aligncenter" width="236"]Black Bear, courtesy of WNC Nature Center Black Bear, courtesy of WNC Nature Center[/caption] Other favorite mammals on exhibit include the black bears and white-tailed deer. The bear walkway features an elevated observation area that allows an unobstructed view of the beautiful animals, often undetected. Otter Falls is always a beloved destination for visitors, providing a view of the river otters underwater as they play and swim. If you are a fan of reptiles and amphibians, you’ll find plenty to enjoy also, including turtles, rattlesnakes, copperheads and salamanders. Majestic birds of prey may also catch your attention, with horned owls, red tailed hawks, turkey vultures and screech owls joining the fun. 
 After a day of adventure enjoying the wildlife at the Western Carolina Nature Center, you can also relax with a stroll around the .6 mile Trillium Trail, that winds through the woods along the Swannanoa River. Soft drinks and snacks are available from vending machines and the center welcomes you to bring your own lunch. You’ll find ample places to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery for a picnic. You can find out more about the Nature Center and plan your visit at www.wncnaturecenter.com.