Squam Lakes Science Center enjoyed successful 2013 seasonBy LARISSA MULKERN
Special to the Union Leader November 28. 2013 7:26PM
HOLDERNESS — The Squam Lakes Natural Science Center broke attendance records in its 2013 season with 50,000 visitors who toured the live animal exhibit trail and another 34,000 who participated in programs, lake cruises and field trips.
The center’s leadership credits the unique wildlife experience, live animal feeding exhibits, broad media coverage, good weather, and an expanded cruise schedule for the boost.
“The collection of native animals that we have here is like nothing else in New Hampshire,” said Executive Director Iain MacLeod. The center’s Gephart Exhibit Trail introduces visitors — up close and personal — to native wildlife such as mountain lions, a bobcat, gray and red foxes, owls, eagles, and black bears.
The 2013 season featured additional cruises on Squam Lake, including loon cruises, a dinner and sunset cruise, and a new family cruise.
Other popular attractions at the center this past year were the live river otter feeding and mountain lion feeding and training exhibits.
MacLeod said the attendance numbers have a positive impact on the center’s budget, which is right on target at the end of the season.
The center’s Project OspreyTrack, led by MacLeod and colleague Dr. Richard O. (Rob) Bierregaard of the University of North Carolina, also brought welcomed attention to the center.
“We were in the news more,” added MacLeod.
Project OspreyTrack allows researchers and the public to follow New Hampshire ospreys as they migrate to South America. This year, three ospreys, two male juveniles and an adult male, were equipped with GPS enabled satellite tracking devices that allow researchers to track routes of travel, altitude and location.
MacLeod said plans are under way for the center’s 2014 season, including a new coyote exhibit featuring the center’s resident adult male coyote, and a new exhibit featuring the center’s sustainable energy systems, such as wood-fired boilers that heat most of the buildings on campus.
Both exhibits will open at the start of the trail season on May 1, 2014.
“We’re so pleased that so many people got outside to experience nature at the Science Center. It’s a testament to our programs, our staff and volunteers and our facility that we have gained such a great reputation as a unique attraction in New Hampshire,” said MacLeod.
The leaves may have fallen off the trees, but there are still a handful of programs planned for this winter, including classes through the center’s home-school program, animal trail walks and several bird activities.
The Science Center is located on Route 113 in Holderness. For more information, visit www.nhnature.org for a full listing of programs, costs and hours.
The center is the only northern New England institution accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.