Hours of Operation: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Last entry 1.5 hours prior to close
Atop Lookout Mountain

Reflection Riding animal program spreads its wings

June 13, 2024


Ever seen an owl at eye level? Now’s your chance at Rock City’s new animal program! 

Rock City is proud to host the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center in Critter Classroom, Monday through Wednesday, for six shows daily between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It is truly a unique opportunity to see native wildlife that you probably have never seen up close before,” said Tish Gailmard, director of wildlife conservation at Reflection Riding. “It gives me the opportunity to teach about the value of these animals, because truly without them we do not survive.”

Tish Gailmard, Reflection Riding education and learning specialist, poses with Nala, a great horned owl, in Rock City’s Critter Classroom.

Each show features a handful of the birds and reptiles from Reflection Riding’s nature center at the foot of Lookout Mountain, so on any given day you may see a great horned owl (pictured), eastern box turtle, green tree frog, corn snake and red-shouldered hawk or others.

Many of the animals at Reflection Riding are permanently injured, with car strikes often being the case for birds, which renders them non-releasable. But the 21 species of wildlife in their care, including six American red wolves, live comfortably on 300 acres at Reflection Riding.

“They provide fabulous ecosystem services, and they do it all for free,” Gailmard said. “All we have to do is provide food, shelter and water for them. We’ve got to take care of the earth to be able to provide those things so these animals can do their job and in turn, leave us with a healthy environment.”

Check out the raptor wingspan chart along Legacy Lane before or after the animal presentation to see how your wingspan compares!