WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s one of Wichita Falls’ hidden gems filled with exotic creatures, mysterious predators and adorable little rascals! Established in 1991 by the Junior League of Wichita Falls, River Bend Nature Center is designed to show Wichitans and out-of-towners the abundance and variety of wildlife that can be found in many backyards and ranches here in Texoma!
For ten years, RBNC exhibits curator Jennica Lambert has introducing interesting animals, insects and plant life to adults and kids and says there’s a lot to explore here.
“We have a lot of snakes that you wouldn’t normally get to see here, nothing we have is venomous, we also have turtles and terrapins, we have prairie dogs that you may have seen but never this close, and then we also have some insects that you normally don’t get a chance to look at up close and personal like tarantulas and scorpions.”
RBNC has several exhibits that a truly unique such as the Nature Conservatory which is a 3-story, state-of-the-art glass building filled with local plant life and endangered animals. There’s also the Ruby N. Priddy Butterfly exhibit that’s dedicated to Peyton’s Project. Peyton Hood was only a toddler when she was bitten by a venomous rattlesnake and died. To keep her memory alive, RBNC established a beautiful butterfly exhibit and provides a magical experience for visitors and volunteers alike.
“We have a chrysalis cabinet where you can see them emerging and then they fly around this enclosed area where you get to see them up close and personal,” says Jennica.
RBNC is also partnering with the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture for a new exhibit called “Under the Pond”. It will feature a 10-foot-tall fish tank filled with different ecosystems and marine life you can find here in Texoma.
Even though COVID-19 has impacted RBNC, Jennica says there’s always something happening at at the center, whether its their weekly nature programs, hands-on crafts and learning projects for the kids, Science Saturdays, Bug Fest, summer camps, or visits from the Dallas Zoo.
“Everyone here is wearing a mask, we’re sanitizing our hands, we’re washing down surfaces, we’re taking all the preventative actions to make our guests feel secure as possible,” says Jennica.
RBNC is also a private nonprofit organization, and has thrived off of charitable donations from the public, businesses and private donors. Because of this, RBNC is able to stay in operation and continue rescuing wild animals.
“We’re really appreciative of all of our donors that have enabled us to do what we’re doing for over 20 years,” says Jennica.
If you’d like to meet any of the furry, scaly or fluttering habitants of RBNC or if you’d like to donate to keep them in operation, click here to learn more!