By Christine Bryant
Prepared to get a little grossed out.
Blacklick Woods Metro Park will host a special “Grossology” display in October – just in time for Halloween.
The display, which will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16 at the park’s Nature Center, will give visitors the opportunity to explore and learn about some of the icky parts of nature.
It’s a little different than most of the park’s programs, admits Cody Berkebile, a naturalist at the park.
“The display will feature information about animal scat, owl pellets, animal parasites and decomposers,” he said.
The program isn’t geared toward any particular age group. In fact, Berkebile says the park’s youngest and oldest visitors will learn something new.
“I believe that both kids and adults will find themselves thinking, ‘Ew, that’s gross but also very interesting,’” he said.
Visitors may be surprised to learn about the life cycles of the animal parasites that are featured in the display.
“For example, there is a fish parasite that actually eats the tongue of its fish host and then later becomes the fish’s tongue,” Berkebile said.
Visitors also will learn about the bones and fur of prey leftover in an owl pellet, which offers insight into how an owl’s digestive system works.
By routinely rotating the displays at the park’s Nature Center, Berkebile says visitors can come to the park repeatedly and see and learn something new each time.
“The Grossology display is particularly fun because it is almost guaranteed to elicit a reaction from the audience,” he said. “People can’t resist gross things.”
People are naturally fascinated by nature, and Berkebile says he enjoys watching visitors interacting with each other as they explore the displays.
“For me, that’s the best part of doing these displays,” he said. “Watching a visitor learn something new and then seeing them get excited about it and share that information with a friend or a family member is the most rewarding experience.”
There is no cost to visit. Blacklick Woods Metro Park is located at 6975 E. Livingston Ave., and the Nature Center is located at the back of the park.