Frequently Asked Questions
Who owns/operates the Maine Wildlife Park? How is it funded?
The Maine Wildlife Park (MWP) is owned and operated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, (MDIFW) and is within the Division of Information and Education. The MWP has a unique organizational and financial structure. It operates exclusively from its own dedicated account, and does not receive Maine State general fund or departmental dollars for its annual budgets. In addition to admission fees, income from the Nature Store, feed machines and direct donations, the MWP is dependent upon volunteers, the Friends of the Maine Wildlife Park organization, local businesses, other MDIFW Divisions, and other state agencies for in-kind support. MWP Staff are not biologists or game wardens, but rather uniquely trained/educated for the specialized captive wildlife care and all other operational demands of the Park.
How is the park different from a zoo?
The MWP is a Maine State government facility that functions as a wildlife education center. It operates as a non-profit to fulfill the Department’s conservation education mission, educating visitors about Maine’s fish and wildlife and how MDIFW manages these resources. Unlike a zoo, the park does not feature exotic species from outside our state; or breed wildlife in captivity. Our animals are named and/or numbered by staff for identification purposes. From an educational perspective, it is important to park staff to avoid humanizing them to preserve species “wild” integrity and the safety of the humans that co-exist with them.
How many people visit the park annually?
The park sees well over 120,000 visitors annually, with recent year’s attendance showing consistent growth. During the peak summer season, close to half of our visitors come from around the U.S. and the globe.
Is every species displayed at the Park truly native to Maine?
Well, almost every species! Our peacocks are certainly not native to Maine, but are exhibited because of their traditional residency here since the 1940s. Beyond these colorful birds, all park species are, for the most part, indigenous. When it comes to wildlife, “native’ can be a relative term. For example, localized populations of ring-neck pheasants can survive along Maine’s coast, but only after years of repeated stocking as a popular game bird originally imported from Asia. Virginia opossums are now native to Maine, but only in the last decade as they naturally expanded their range north from their more historic southern range.
What’s “wrong” with the animals? Where are they from? Will they be released back into the wild?
The majority of wildlife in our care are permanent, non-releasable residents that have been placed at the park for a variety of reasons, including human dependence, illegal human possession, as orphans, or with permanent injuries or amputations. Sources for these animals include wildlife rehabilitators, law enforcement, and other captive wildlife facilities. Our animals are generally not undergoing rehabilitation - they are here because they cannot survive in the wild and should not be released. They are given a place to live safely at the MWP, while serving as ambassadors for their species, educating thousands annually about Maine’s native wildlife.
What do the animals eat and how many times a day?
The park has herbivorous, omnivorous, and carnivorous animals. The diets therefore range from ‘browse’ - leaves, buds and twigs of woody shrubs and trees, to red meat, chicken, and mice! Road killed deer and moose are utilized for the carnivores whenever available. Most of the park wildlife is fed once a day but feed times, quantities, and techniques vary considerably.
How much do the park’s largest animals weigh?
You probably guessed that the Park’s moose take the title of largest and heaviest. Ranging from 700 to 900 pounds, the park’s adult moose are huge mammals. Second place belongs to the park’s boar, or male black bear, weighing in at over 450 pounds.
What happens to the park wildlife in the winter?
The park closes each year after November 11th, and reopens in mid-April. During this time the MWP is run by a “skeleton crew” of 4 full time staff that are here all winter, every single day. While many of the larger mammals stay in their regular exhibits, many birds and smaller mammals are transferred to more protected enclosures on the property. While special dens, bedding, and other accommodations are prepared in some cases, our native wildlife is far better equipped to handle Maine’s harsh winters than humans are!
How long do the animals live?
Captive wildlife generally lives longer than their wild counterparts. Longevity is very much species dependent in either case. Our ground birds and opossums may only live two years, which is comparable to their natural life spans in the wild; while some of our raptors and bears can live up to 40 years!
How can I become a volunteer?
It’s simple! Just fill out a volunteer application from the website or gatehouse. Mail in or drop off your application at the park and we’ll contact you to discuss available opportunities!