Local artist partners with North Carolina Zoo

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 11, 2018

Dale Weiler, local artist of Weiler Woods of Wildlife in Tryon, has partnered with the North Carolina Zoo to unveil a new sculpture titled “Hellbender’s Rock” at the grand opening of the new hellbender exhibit at the zoo on May 8.

“Guests will be able to touch a life-sized replica of the live hellbenders in the exhibit,” Weiler said. “It’ll provide maximum exposure to improve awareness of these wonderful animals.”

“Hellbender’s Rock,” by Dale Weiler. (Submitted by Cheryl Tuner)

Weiler and his wife, Loti Woods, raise money for wildlife conservation through their company. He feels the zoo is an ideal place for the sculpture because of its strong commitment to conservation.

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Hellbenders, also nicknamed “devil dogs,” “snot otters” and “mud devils,” are one of the largest salamanders in the U.S., measuring more than 2 feet in length and found in waters throughout the Appalachian mountain range. They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to habitat loss and pollution.

Because of their preference for clean streams and rivers, hellbenders are synonymous with the good water quality of a region.

A team from the North Carolina Zoo is currently working in western North Carolina surveying the hellbender population and installing nest boxes to help with breeding as part of a conservation effort.

To see more of Weiler’s sculptures and learn about Loti and Dale’s conservation adventures, visit www.weilerwoodsforwildlife.com. To learn more about the North Carolina Zoo and their wildlife conservation initiatives, visit www.nczoo.org.

– Submitted by Cheryl Turner