Native Virginia Wildlife Exhibits
Maymont's Wildlife Exhibits are scattered throughout the 40-acre valley between the historical estate, Children's Farm and Nature Center. All exhibits feature native Virginia wildlife in their natural habitats, including black bears, bison, white-tailed deer, gray fox, bobcats, bald eagles, owls, and other birds of prey.
Maymont's bear habitat is an extensive environment, complete with a landscape to keep the bears active. The large terrain includes a rock scramble, a pond (formerly a stone quarry for some of the structures on the property), numerous climbing trees and multiple areas for digging, climbing, sleeping, hiding and eating. The exhibit is multi-species and includes turtles and ducks. The habitat undergoes seasonal changes on its own and features thriving vegetation with diversity that is naturally occurring; and even hosts migratory birds.
Maymont's exhibits include many other healthy, but non-releasable, wild animals. These animals are accepted only from licensed rehabilitators and agencies that expertly nurse orphaned or injured wildlife back to health. While most rehabilitated animals are released into the wild, some animals are deemed unable to survive without assistance and find refuge at Maymont, where they serve important roles as wildlife ambassadors in education programs and exhibits.
All of Maymont's animals are well cared for by a team of professional animal keepers and aquarists. Maymont's animal volunteer staff varies seasonally; many volunteers are needed year-round.
Read more about the native Virginia wildlife at Maymont:
Birds of Prey
All birds of prey exhibited at Maymont have permanent injuries that prevent them from surviving in the wild. Among the raptors on display are bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, vultures, and great horned and barred owls. They are largely meat eaters and have powerful wings and talons. Red-tailed hawks are a large species and are beneficial because they feed on rats, mice and insects. Vultures have an important role in the ecosystem and are always on the lookout for their next meal, typically a dead animal. Hawks and vultures are day birds that love to soar. Conversely, Virginia's owls are nocturnal (active at night). The Great horned owl is Virginia's largest native owl, capable of attacking an animal twice its own size. Owls have large immovable eyes and virtually noiseless flight.
Bison and White-tailed Deer
Bison once roamed most of the North American continent from the mountain grasslands of the West and east into Virginia. Often called buffalo, they belong to the same family as sheep, goats and cattle. A mature bull may weigh more than 2,000 lbs. White-tailed deer in Virginia now number more than one million, a population greater than that when settlers first arrived here. Being very adaptable, they have learned to live around humans. Wild deer are often seen in Maymont and are becoming more common in urban areas. Male deer (buck) grow a new set of antlers each year and shed the old ones in February or March.
These large omnivores were once more common in Virginia but, with loss of undisturbed habitat, they are now more restricted to mountain counties and in the Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia. Maymont's bears are fed meat, fruit, grasses, fish and other food in a secure holding area at night and are allowed to roam the habitat during daylight hours.
These secretive nocturnal hunters are common in Virginia, but seldom seen. Excellent hearing and vision helps them hunt small mammals, such as mice, squirrels and rabbits. However, these medium-sized cats are actually capable of taking a sick or small deer. They hunt from the ground, but will pounce on prey from trees. Bobcats get their name from their unusually short tails which are approximately 3 inches in length.
Foxes belong to the dog family and most members of the family are not tree climbers. However, the gray fox is different; it is an excellent climber and will take to the trees to escape enemies. Gray foxes are omnivorous and will eat mice, rabbits and squirrels as well as insects, fruits and nuts.
The Sika deer is not native to Virginia and comes from Japan, Korea and portions of China. Unfortunately, this hardy species was introduced onto Assateague Island where they compete with the native White-tailed deer for food. Male Sika deer have a different shape to their antlers, and both sexes have prominent spots on their coats as adults.