Animal lovers welcome

Learn about exotic species, how to create a critter-friendly yard at weekend expo

outside

August 17, 2006|By MARC SHAPIRO | MARC SHAPIRO,SUN REPORTER

Animal Planet and Comcast are giving families plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with animals this weekend. The Animal Planet Expo comes to Centennial Park in Ellicott City on Saturday and Sunday.

"There's something for everyone at the Animal Planet Expo," said Benne Gallion, a marketing representative for Discovery Networks.

Visitors can see dog flying disc demonstrations and other animal shows, participate in animal trivia games, watch films in the Animal Planet Expo Theater and get a preview of the Discovery Channel's new series, Atlas, in the Discovery HD Theatre Dome. Other activities include an animal house with exotic species, a bug house and a pet den where visitors can learn about pet adoption.

The Discovery Kids' Endurance Experience gives kids a mental and physical challenge similar to the Discovery Kids' Channel Endurance series. In the kids' zone, children can try out the obstacle course, play games and get their faces painted. Interactive activities promote healthy eating and living.

"Animal Planet is about educating the consumer, and we want to entertain and educate at the same time," said Gallion.

David Mizejewski and Molly Pesce, the hosts of Animal Planet's Backyard Habitat, will sign autographs and teach visitors how to make their backyards, gardens, roofs and porches attractive to wildlife through simple crafts on Saturday.

"Habitat destruction is globally the number one threat to all species of wildlife," said Mizejewski, who is senior manager of the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat. The self-described nature geek said that deforestation, development and global warming are the big contributors to destruction of habitat.

"These are big problems that require big solutions," he said. "There are things on the grand scale you can do and things on the small scale. There are always ways to get involved."

At the Animal Planet Expo, Mizejewski and Pesce will demonstrate how to make bagel bird feeders, flower pot bird baths and wildlife cookies. Bagel bird feeders can be made out of half a bagel, peanut butter, bird seed and string or ribbon.

"We want to make sure the wildlife have everything they need in all phases of life," Mizejewski said. This includes food, water, shelter and places to raise young. One of the most rewarding things about their job is the instant results they see, Pesce said.

"We create a habitat and literally before we leave, there are animals in the yard," she said. She wants the education part of the Animal Planet Expo to stick out in people's minds.

"Our hope for Backyard Habitat is that people realize they can do this in their yard or porch or garden."

Centennial Park is at 10000 Route 108 in Ellicott City. The event is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Guests can bring pets if they are leashed. Admission is free. Call 240-662-2930 or visit animalplanet.com.

marc.shapiro@baltsun.com

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