While closed to visitors during the winter months, the Parsons Arboretum’s education center offerings continue to be expanded.
“I was at a museum in Lawrence where they had all these different animals you could feel and we thought that would be great,” board member/volunteer Ken Ervin said. “Our board decided to do it.”
The new exhibit was made possible through memorials in memory of Darrell Keller.
“We got over $800,” Ervin said.
They used the money to purchase 12 hides/pelts from a company in Idaho and a chest of drawers they reworked to fit their purposes to display the pelts.
Full hides are displayed of mink, gray squirrel, woodchuck, marmot, skunk, coyote, red fox, raccoon, rabbit, otter and badger, and there is a piece of grizzly bear hide.
The arboretum could not afford a full-sized grizzle bear hide, which retails at a cost of more than $3,000.
All but the grizzly bear can be found in Kansas. No grizzly bears have been sighted in Kansas since the 1800s after they were rooted out, but grizzly bears are still located in Oklahoma and Missouri.
Now, children and other visitors to the education center will have the chance to touch the fur of each of these animals and see them up close.
The pelts will be displayed along with other exhibits, such as animal skulls, a butterfly collection, more than 200 birds’ nests and much more.
The grounds of the Parsons Arboretum are open year round for the public to enjoy, but the education center is only open during the summer months, beginning in May.