Discover an oasis in the heart of Georgia Southern’s campus


Lauren Sabia, Editor-In-Chief

I left my last class of the day in a frenzy as I desperately needed to breathe in fresh air and look at something other than a textbook. A serene environment made up of luscious greenery and calming sounds of birds chirping and water splashing was exactly what I needed, and I found it. 

As I wandered into my favorite discovery, I headed onto a walking trail that loops around the property, shaded by pine trees with squirrels scuttling by. It took me on new adventures with each step. 

A few moments of strolling went by and I arrived at the wetlands, with narrow trees towering above the shallow water, and tall, bright green grass along the borders. If you listen closely, you can hear the fish flopping about at the water’s surface. 

One of the largest walk-in aviaries in the region is located along the back of the trail, with over 100 ducks lounging in the sun, ruffling their feathers and paddling through the pond. Species with radiant shades of blue and green in their feathers were the most fun to try and spot. 

A small, creaky wood barn in the center seemed monotonous until further inspection. As I entered the dim interior and looked up, my eyes were met by a ghostly white barn owl perched in the top left corner. Stray away from provoking it, what happened next was chilling, but enticed curiosity nonetheless. 

I had a staring contest with a great horned owl peeking through a tree hollow. I searched for the tortoises as they weaved through the logs and bushes of their exhibit. I counted each of the ducks as they waded by in the Waterfowl Pond. I instantly forgot about the midterm I just bombed and the daily stresses of being a college student. 

Would you believe me if I told you this was on Georgia Southern’s Statesboro campus, tucked in between Human Resources and the IT Building?

The Wildlife Center provides the Statesboro community with not only its beauty, but also educational programming on different species of birds, reptiles and more. The animals would not be able to survive in the wild due to some kind of injury, so here they are given a second chance and sanctuary. 

The center’s main building right next to Lot 42, where you first enter this oasis, houses a variety of reptiles and amphibians; like lizards and even a 14-foot-long Burmese Python

Georgia Southern’s mascot, Freedom the bald eagle, when he is not soaring through Paulson Stadium and posing in photos with his many fans, also resides here towards the center’s front. 

Brandy Battisto, a Statesboro local, brought her two-year-old daughter to explore the center. “It’s really nice outside. It’s kid friendly. There’s a lot of animals but not overwhelming, and just a fun place to be,” Battisto exclaimed with a smile. 

Her favorite animal that she saw was Freedom, while her daughter, after some prying from her mom, voiced that the owls were hers as she clutched onto her baby doll. They skipped off through the trails and towards the playground equipped with a seesaw. 

Scott Courdin is the curator for the Wildlife Center, where he is responsible for all aspects of animal health and welfare. During an interview, he stressed the importance of bringing people closer to animals.  

“We teach the importance that all species have a place and function in the environment,” Courdin claimed. “My hope is that our visitors will leave the center with a stronger connection to animals and nature.”

By creating awareness and appreciation, his hope is that they will share with others and carry their new knowledge with them, long after they return back to the parking lot and head home. 

The Wildlife Center highlights a variety of flora and fauna local to Georgia, and this region, through their many exhibits and educational programs at 3:30 p.m. each day. The center’s staff allows people of all ages the chance to feel the slinky, cool skin of the albino python or watch with dazzling eyes as the barred owl spreads its wings just inches away from them. 

Admission is free for GS students and staff with their Eagle ID, and for adults it is $4. They are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. 

They receive an average of about 15,000 visitors per year, which includes general admissions and field trips from the younger generations that are eager to learn about different species. 

Courdin’s hope to connect people with nature can be seen through the attentiveness the center gives to the community they educate and to the animals they nurture. More so the Wildlife Center nurtured me as I explored a world I had not paid much attention to before, even though some of these creatures can be right in our backyards. 

I know I will come back to this oasis in the heart of campus, and never forget the feeling it gave me long after our first encounter. As I crossed the bridge and withdrew from the Wetland Preserve, a quote by Frank Lloyd Wright adorned the wooden archway in black lettering.

It read, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”