Emily Czajkowski of St. Charles learned Sunday that a possum's fur is soft. The 11-year-old got the chance to see and touch the possum, a goose and a turtle with her family during the second of three Discovery Days weekends at the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center in St. Charles.
Fox Valley Wildlife brought animals for kids to meet and pet with the Kane County Audubon Society on hand for guided bird tours and information about the Great Backyard Bird Count, a national bird census project.
Lisa O'Brien, nature programs coordinator at the Discovery Center, said the winter months are a slow time between busier seasons for activities with schools in the summer and fall.
"We were just trying to figure out a way to bring people here," O'Brien said. A bird-watching area is a permanent setup in the center, which opened in April, and binoculars are regularly available for public use. Sunshine and clear skies meant guided tours by the Audubon Society were especially enjoyable.
Paige Spizzirri, of South Elgin, walked with her daughter and a small group around the center, enjoying the sun and the chance to be outside. Delaney Spizzirri, 7, said she most enjoyed making owl crafts during the 4-hour event and followed it up with a look at a real owl, also courtesy of Fox Valley Wildlife.
The three-weekend Discovery Days schedule focuses on animal rescue and recovery. Sunday's activities incorporated native wildlife to the Fox Valley with exotic animals set to take the forefront Feb. 26. A 12-foot long alligator will be the guest of honor.
Pam Otto, nature programs manager at the Discovery Center, said people regularly underestimate the long-term maintenance needs of reptiles and other exotic pets.
"The message is think twice and know what you're getting yourself into," Otto said.
Visit stcparks.org for details about next Sunday's events.