WILKES-BARRE — A scentless skunk, a baby opossum and a flying squirrel thrilled more than 100 kids at Thursday’s Farmers Market.
The animals were brought to Public Square by the Second Chance Wildlife Center in Wyoming County, a nonprofit organization that accepts orphaned and injured wild mammals for care, rehabilitation and eventual release back into the wild.
There were plenty of “oohs” and “ahhs” when Shane Kleiner brought each animal out for the children to see and learn about during the hour-long presentation.
“We do this to educate children about the wildlife in Pennsylvania,” Kleiner said. “And the kids have fun while they learn.”
Children from the Wilkes-Barre Catholic Youth Center, Scribbles to Scholars in Pittston and other child centers got up close and personal with Priscilla ‘Possum and Penelope Skunk during Kliener’s presentation.
“Did you know a skunk can accurately spray up to 16 feet?” Kleiner asked the children.
He said the best way to remove skunk odor is by using a combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish washing liquid. Penelope, Kleiner said, is 4 years old, had her scent glands removed and she serves as one of his family’s pets.
Kleiner had a baby opossum and an adult — Priscilla — to show the kids. He explained why each animal is important in nature and how each survives.
Kleiner brought along coyote and bobcat pelts and black bear skulls and claws. He said one black bear in Pennsylvania weighed in at 1,300 pounds.
“If you ever encounter a black bear, don’t lay down and play dead,” Kleiner said. “Stand up, wave your arms and make as much noise as you can. Try to act like a mean predator — bears don’t like that.”
Second Chance Wildlife Center was established in 1990 by Angie Colarusso, who worked in the veterinary field for years.
Colarusso realized there was no help in the immediate area for wildlife. She obtained a wildlife rehabilitation license through the Pennsylvania Game Commission and established Second Chance Wildlife Center Luzerne County. By 1995, the center quickly outgrew its facility and moved to Wyoming County.
In the 23-year history of Second Chance Wildlife Center, it has helped thousands of animals that might not have received a second chance at life.
John Maday of the Riverfront Parks Committee said the Second Chance Wildlife Center is a frequent visitor to the downtown area. He said the group will offer another presentation at “ChalkFest 2014” in October along the River Common.
“They always do a great job and the kids have fun while they learn about wildlife right here in our area,” Maday said.