October 2, 2003

Teva Watches Animals at Cayuga Nature Center

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Teva, Cornell’s Jewish-Environmental Awareness group, visited the Cayuga Nature Center yesterday for a tour and demonstration.

“We basically just went to have fun and learn,” Teva president Shoshannah Lenski ’06 explained.

The group had an opportunity to watch the Nature Center staff feed a fox, hawk, peacock and an albino pheasant.

Teva members learned that the Cayuga Nature Center houses many kinds of animals that were once injured or were abandoned, and has taken them in to rehabilitate them. Animals that can’t be released into the wild again have a permanent home at the Nature Center.

The fox, for example, had been found on an Indian reservation where the people tried to raise it like a dog. However, when it was about three years old and reached sexual maturity, it developed an odor and became too aggressive to be a domestic pet, so the nature center took it in.

The hawk was wild, but broke its wing when it was hit by a car while feeding on roadkill. It will never be able to fly again, so the Nature Center cares for it. Another resident of the Nature Center was a snake that had been mistreated. When it was taken to the center, it was even scared of its own food, and staff had to force-feed it for months.

Elan Margulies ’07 said it was interesting to see the animals, especially since he had “never seen a fox that close before.” He also found it noteworthy that the peacock had been taken in after roaming the streets of Ithaca for three weeks — its origin is still not known — and that the reason the albino pheasant needed a home was because it was disowned by its family for being albino.

The group also did some hiking along the trails, and climbed what Lenski called an “amazing tree house” built by Ithaca High School and the surrounding community in 2000. Margulies and Leon Bellan grad were impressed by the treehouse as well.

Bellan also appreciated the scenic setting of the nature center and the available trails. He felt he would prefer to go back at a busier time, perhaps in the summer.

Lenski was glad the group had the chance to go: “I loved it,” she said. “Even though it was a small group, we had a great time.

“It was good to see that they were doing something to help these animals. They had a lot of others, too, like a hedgehog and some turtles and others, a lot of pets that people hadn’t been able to take care of.” She was glad that these neglected animals had found a caring home.

“I’m glad there’s a place trying to educate young people and students like this, and to give them a chance to explore nature,” Margulies said.

Teva is a relatively new Cornell group, chartered last fall when it formally separated from Hillel. Its founders wanted to be free to hold events during Shabbat, when Hillel will not do so. Anyone interested in the outdoors or in Jewish or environmental awareness is welcome to participate in events.

Archived article by Lauryn Slotnick