The Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) was established in 1972 as the result of several local residents who were advocating for cleaning up the polluted Ottauquechee River. After succeeding, they formed VINS as a way of promoting environmental conservation and stewardship in the region. Bird banding and rehab came next, and then a facility open to the public.
Vermont Institute of Natural Science is not a zoo per se, though it is a place where you can see and interact with wildlife through its various programs, most of which last 45 minutes and are scheduled throughout each day. For example, the Raptor Encounter educates you about the abilities of various birds of prey. The Reptile Rendezvous teaches about, you guessed it, reptiles. In Owls and Their Calls, you learn the various sounds that different types of owls make. And for a different angle on owls, Give a Hoot explores the ways these raptors are uniquely adapted to hunting. No, they cannot turn their heads 360 degrees. Yes, their eyes are fixed in place, and yes, they can fly silently.
Another family-friendly program at VINS is about the life cycle of moose, which have become more common in Vermont.
Vermont Institute of Natural Science also cares for a myriad of sick or wounded birds in their avian hospital. You can see the rehab center’s prep area, intensive care unit and flight cages in which healing birds learn to fly again. VINS has rehabbed over 400 injured and orphaned birds from throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. It also supports and mentors participants in a number of citizen scientist programs such as Project FeederWatch, NestWatch and the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Take Amtrak to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science
Take Amtrak to White River Junction Station (WRJ) or Rutland Station (RUD). Use Lyft or Uber to go from the station to the zoo, or reserve an NYTRAIN Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Enterprise picks you up at the station and takes you to your vehicle. Click here to reserve your car or call (WRJ) 802-773-0855; (RUD) .802-773-0855.