Watch raptors get released back into the wild next weekend

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Raptors will get a second chance at life next weekend when they are returned back into the wild.

The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota announced this year's Fall Raptor Release will take place next Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center in Hastings.

The public is invited to watch as rehabilitated raptors are released into the sky.

The free event begins at 10 a.m., rain or shine, with release times at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. There will also be family-friendly activities and educational booths.

You can bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on for this outdoor event, but the center asks that pets stay at home.

"This event is a way for our friends and the community to share in the successes of these magnificent raptors being returned to the wild,”Julia Ponder, D.V.M., Executive Director of The Raptor Center said in the release.

What the heck is a raptor?

No, we're not talking about those scary-intelligent dinosaurs from the terrifying kitchen scene in Jurassic Park.

The U of M's raptors include eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons.

Most of the birds end up at the center after they've been found sick or injured, and they stick around until they are healthy and ready to go back to nature. Though some of them are unable to be released back into the wild due to their injuries.

You can check out the adorable birds on their website. Each raptor is listed by name and has a background story about how it ended up at the center.

History of The Raptor Center

According to their website, the center was founded in the 1970s by Dr. Gary Duke, who worked at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, and co-founder and current director Dr. Patrick Redig, who was a sophomore veterinary student at the time.

One of Duke's students had brought in four baby great horned owls after their tree had been cut down. The owls helped expand Duke's research, and soon, more people were bringing him owls and other raptors. Redig was hired to help take care of the injured and ill birds, which people kept bringing to them.

Eventually the two named their project the Raptor Research and Rehabilitation Program, and began getting help from grants, donations, and volunteers. And it took off from there.

Besides rehabilitating sick and injured birds, the center educates veterinarians, offers education programs, and conducts field studies to understand how changes in the wild affect wild raptors.

You can read more about their accomplishments here.

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