Discovery Center Family
The San Gabriel River is home to a variety of animals, some of which are living at the Discovery Center. Scroll down the page to learn more about our friends.
Professor Wood Owlbert (Bubo virginianus)
The great horned owl Professor Wood Owlbert is an esteemed education ambassador at Whittier Narrows Nature Center. Visitors learn from him about owls and their place in the wild. Owlbert was stolen from his nest as a baby. Concerned neighbors alerted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife—he was confiscated him from the poachers. Baby owls learn to hunt and survive from their parents but Owlbert never that opportunity—the only way baby owls gain those skills–so release to the wild was not practical. Visit him at Whittier Narrows Nature Center where he has lived since 1999.
Naomi (Buteo jamaicenis)
Naomi is a red-tailed hawk captured by a falconer, trained to hunt on command and bring back prey without eating it. Even though she’s blind in one eye she enjoyed a career appearing in commercials and movies. But it would have been dangerous for her to be released into the wilderness after that–her condition would have shortened her life. Whittier Narrows Nature Center adopted her in 2008 to be housed and cared for as an animal ambassador. Naomi provides young visitors with a close-up encounter with a native California hunting bird.
Sora (Tyto alba)
A hiker found little baby owl Sora injured on a trail in the high desert, picked her up and took her home. Sora’s rescuer hand-fed her and when the owlet was well enough another rehabilitator took over her care. But a hand-raised owl is ill-equipped to return to the wild. Sora became part of the Whittier Narrows Nature Center community in June 2014.
Rufus (Procyon lotor)
Rufus was a wounded baby raccoon when a boy scout found him in Sycamore Canyon near Whittier, scooped him up and took him home via back pack. The family nurtured and raised the little guy but by the time Rufus was two years old it became clear that wild raccoons don’t make good house pets. Like Rufus, raccoons are known to be adaptable and can be found in forests, mountains, coastal marshes, and urban areas. But Rufus was ill-equipped to return to the wild—he moved in at Whittier Narrows Nature Center in November 2006 and has been an animal ambassador ever since.
Magoo (Procyon lotor)
The popular and personable Magoo has been at Whittier Narrows Nature Center since June 2014. He is legally blind–with 10 -15 % vision due to a run-in with a human in that person’s garage. With his limited vision Magoo wouldn’t do well in an open wildlife habitat—but he now enjoys care and attention in an enclosure at Whittier Narrows Nature Center specially designed to fit his needs.