Scroll, click, and meet several of the 300+ animals that enrich the Green Chimneys School experience for children with special needs. Through therapeutic education and residential treatment program, Green Chimneys students interact with animals in a variety of ways.
The Farm & Wildlife Center is open to the public on weekends from 10am-3pm. Plan your visit
This female opossum was rescued with her brother by a local biker who was able to fit the pair in his pocket! Under the care of a rehabber from such a young age, the opossums never developed strong instincts for the wild and are safer in a wildlife center. Opossums are often misunderstood because they look a bit scary but they provide an important community service with their steady diet of ticks, helping to keep the population down.
Similar to the birds at our Wildlife Center, the opossum will not be named so that we continue to honor their place in nature, even though they will not return to the wild.
Meet the New Kids on the Block -- spring additions to Green Chimneys Teaching Barn!
These kids (goats under a year in age) are just 5-8 weeks old and need to be bottle-fed three times a day. Students have the opportunity to help feed, groom, and socialize them as they acclimate to their new home. The two white goats are Saanan and the long-eared goat is a Nubian. They all arrived here with very minor health issues -- but nothing that will hinder them long term.
Most students value and enjoy caring for the animals so much, they get to choose spending time with and feeding the goats and other animals as a reward for excellent behavior.
Adjusting to new surroundings can be a challenge...even for an animal! Albus arrived at Green Chimneys with some obstacles to overcome; he had never seen a camel, and he had to adapt to a busy campus with a diverse body of students. The staff and students promptly embraced the handsome Spotted Draft cross gelding, patiently introducing him to the variety of animals and taking him for long walks accompanied by other members of the horse herd. Albus easily learned that Green Chimneys is a fun place to live, and was soon ready to join the therapeutic riding program.
Greetings from Jewels, one of the most popular dogs on campus. She is part rat terrier—a breed known to be perceptive and able to respond intuitively to human emotions—and a favorite familiar face for students stepping off the school bus each morning. Jewels has been at Green Chimneys for most of her life as a member of the campus dog program, which brings canines into classrooms, dorms, and offices as part of the many opportunities for Green Chimneys students to benefit from animal interactions. She enjoys greeting and helping students throughout the day, and everyone makes a point to say, “She is so calm.”
This porcupine is a first for the Green Chimneys Wildlife Center! Found in Upstate New York by a dog who brought the “porcupette” to its owner, the rescued baby received medical treatment and care from a local rehabber. When the baby was old enough to be on its own, it was determined to be too friendly to survive in the wild and was brought to Green Chimneys. This sociable creature became an instant hit among students and staff who love watching him enjoy his favorite foods—corn on the cob and sweet potatoes—and lounge on his high platform on warm days.
Rocket has been a student favorite ever since his arrival at the Clearpool Nature Room. Crested geckos are native to the island of New Caledonia, near Australia, and were thought to be extinct until their rediscovery in the mid 90s. Claws help the gecko climb rough terrain, and tiny hairs on its toes and tip of its tail allow it to climb even the smoothest surfaces, including glass. Rocket’s ability to climb, jump, and change color from beige to yellow to orange make him exciting for students to handle, and they especially love trying to find where he is hiding in his tank.
Bantam rooster Hei Hei has become one of the most skilled animals at the farm, thanks to clicker training, a positive reinforcement approach utilizing a device that makes a distinctive “click-click!” sound, followed by a treat. Chickens have excellent memory and a surprisingly sophisticated communication system, making them highly trainable. Students participating in Hei Hei’s training benefit from a fun way to connect while developing communication skills, and working together to master timing between cue, clicker, and treat.
Recently made famous by a popular video game, the axolotl is known for its unique appearance and as an ambassador for environmental awareness. This cold water, cave-dwelling amphibian lives entirely underwater in lakes and canals in Mexico, and has been declared an endangered species due to pollution and urbanization. Green Chimneys students have the opportunity to observe this rare animal up close in the wildlife classroom, as wildlife staff teach about the importance of protecting our environment.
This female Ferruginous hawk came to Green Chimneys from a falconer in Long Island, NY upon retirement from the sport of falconry, and will live out her life under Green Chimneys care. Beautiful feather decoration on its legs, a snow-white chest, and a very distinct call make this breed hard to miss. As the largest hawk in North America, it is sometimes confused with the Golden Eagle. This unique bird can hunt using several techniques: flying low to the ground at high speeds; soaring high above; or hovering and then swooping down to catch prey.
Bella the Pig
Bella the Vietnamese Pot-bellied pig joined the Green Chimneys Farm in 2010 at just one year old, making her one of the farm’s most senior residents. Pigs are highly intelligent animals and Bella benefits from enrichment activities that stimulate her thinking and keep her active. One skill exercise has staff hide her food under feed pans to encourage her to sniff it out. Other times, Bella can be found happily reclined in an attempt to entice visitors to give her belly scratches and treats!!
Easily recognized by its compact size and short ears, the Netherland Dwarf is one of the smallest rabbit breeds. Spruce is spunky and curious, and because of his small size, likes to stand tall on his back legs to observe his surroundings. Rabbits are prey animals and their natural instincts keep them hyper-aware so students are taught to move slowly when interacting, to help them feel safe. If students sit still long enough in Spruce’s pen, he is likely to hop right up for petting and some special attention!
Arriving at Green Chimneys just three days after being born, Alfie instantly bonded with students and staff through bottle feeding and gentle newborn care. Alfie is a Brown Swiss steer and has fully grown to be large not only in size but in personality, as well. A natural affection for people makes him the first to come to the fence to greet anyone walking by, and his responsiveness to students makes him a genuine favorite at the farm.
This male and female pair of red-tailed hawks lived at New York’s Pace University for many years before joining the Paul C. Kupchok Wildlife Center. Both birds are rescues and unable to be released. The female is missing a few of her talons, which were burned off after landing on a telephone wire. The male has a permanent wing injury. Both have enjoyed otherwise healthy lives, and the female had even laid eggs right in her cage at Pace!
Minka the ferret was donated to the students at Green Chimneys’ Clearpool campus by a family that wanted her to have an outlet for her boundless energy. She gives students the opportunity to learn about animal enrichment as they construct obstacle courses out of collapsible tubes and cardboard boxes for her to play in and show off her agility. This active girl never tires of playing, and sta. and students must be on their toes when she’s exploring the Nature Room because she has a reputation for snatching dry-erase markers and stashing them away in her blankets!
Mocha & Hazelnut
These rabbits were donated to Green Chimneys as a pair and although their breed is uncertain, they appear
to be closest to the Silver rabbit, the oldest recorded breed of domesticated rabbit. Both were very skittish
when they first arrived, but these girls have become quite content to let students walk up to them without
hopping away. The rabbit pair now share their time between the Brewster and Clearpool campuses for all Green
Chimneys students to learn from and enjoy. Everyone needs some time to adjust!
Lance is one of three llamas that joined the barn in 2019. He quickly gained the reputation of being the biggest thinker; he will not do anything unless he has had the chance to think about it first. When Lance first arrived at Green Chimneys, he developed a connection with a farm intern who guided him through clicker and pack training. Over time, Lance became more confident and willing. Today, he is a great example for students who struggle with activities that are new or unfamiliar, reminding them that they will eventually find their way.
Noah, a Gypsy Drum horse, was discovered when Green Chimneys’ equine instructors were looking to add another large draft horse to our herd to give older students more opportunities to ride. Noah’s stocky build and shorter stature make for a steady, non-intimidating ride. He prefers to walk calmly and slowly, both of which comfort our students while they ride him, particularly if they are a little nervous. Noah’s blend of color, distinct markings, and long hair make him easy for students to identify and remember, helping them to gain familiarity and maintain a connection.
Donated by the Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy in Litchfield, Connecticut, this striking pair adds a new dash of color to the pond at the Wildlife Center. Red-breasted geese are smaller, stockier birds native to Europe and some areas of Siberia. They typically nest near peregrine falcons and gulls, using their neighbors as a deterrent from small predators that might attack a nest. These geese have a unique and piercing “ki-ioik, ki-ik” call that is easy to distinguish among the waterfowl chatter, and students can quickly recognize the geese by hearing them before spotting them in their habitat.
The newest addition to the Nature Room at Green Chimneys’ Clearpool campus is a blue-tongued skink. He was donated by a nature center, where he spent over ten years visiting schools and interacting in public programs. Students are fascinated, and sometimes a bit confused, by his unusual bright blue tongue. In the wild, blue in animals can signify poison and acts as a warning to potential predators, but skinks are not poisonous. Students are encouraged to maintain calm body language and plenty of patience when handling the reptile so that they can catch a glimpse of his tongue!
Johnny came to Green Chimneys from a loving family when he was 3 years old. He is a Pygora goat, a cross between the Angora and Pygmy breeds, which are typically bred as show and fiber goats. When he has his full coat, Johnny is often mistaken for a sheep! Then, once he is sheared, his long ears get him confused for a dog. Johnny is extremely friendly and always looking for attention. He constantly tries to “supervise” the farm staff while they are carrying out their barn chores by standing right where they need to clean—just in case they miss a spot. Or Johnny might knock over a wheelbarrow so that they have to get everything extra clean.
This wild/domestic hybrid turkey came to the Paul C. Kupchok Wildlife Center as a baby, and he has been right at home ever since. When the bird was tiny, students visiting him in the wildlife classroom loved watching the chick respond to whistling to come get a mealworm treat. As the turkey grew, he moved to his own outdoor habitat to live as he would in the wild. Native to the Hudson Valley region where Green Chimneys is located, wild turkeys are often seen along roadsides, mingling with deer.
Pumpkin & Patch are Nigerian Dwarf goats, a breed originating in West Africa. They came to reside at Green Chimneys from a local farm in the winter of 2019. Their names were chosen from over 100 submissions from both staff and students. Nigerian Dwarf goats are considered very docile and are often bred as companion animals, which means Pumpkin & Patch have a great temperament for the students at Green Chimneys!
The Farm & Wildlife Center at Green Chimneys is home to many goats like Pumpkin & Patch, and your sponsorship gift helps provide them all with safety, stability, and care. Sponsor Goats
Sponsor a Cow
Blossom is a 1-year-old Holstein cow, and she was born a freemartin. A freemartin calf is a common result of twin calves; the female twin absorbs genetic material from a male twin in utero, and after birth develops male traits and subsequently becomes sterile. Since Blossom can’t produce milk, the dairy farm where she was born asked Green Chimneys if we’d like to have her, and of course, we agreed! Blossom came to us around the same time as another calf named Alfie, and the two have grown up together while being cared for by staff and students alike. She also likes spending time with Fiona, pictured. Our Farm & Wildlife Center is home to several cows like Blossom, Alfie, and Fiona, and your sponsorship provides food, shelter, and care for all of them. Sponsor a Cow
Meet the Bantam chicken family: a hen that arrived at Green Chimneys with seven new baby chicks in tow. A local resident who keeps chickens discovered the eggs in the hen’s nest and realized that many chicks would need a bigger home. Once they hatched, she wanted to keep the family together and brought Mama and her chicks to the Green Chimneys Farm where they took up residence in the bunny hutch, living together happily with their rabbit roommates. The two roosters and five hens have grown up looking just like their black and white-speckled mom so there’s no mistaking this family resemblance!
This barred owl fell from his nest and ended up on the ground in New Paltz, NY where he was rescued and cared for but it was quickly apparent that he was severely disfigured. He had a twisted, crooked beak, his wing feathers weren’t fully developed and one eye was shut while the other did not look as it should. This was not a bird that could be released back into the wild. Green Chimneys wildlife specialists worked with a local veterinary hospital to improve the bird’s health and determined that the owl was totally blind in one eye and 80-90% blind in the other. It is a wonder that nature had allowed him to survive but he is now living quite well at Green Chimneys where the children enjoy supervised visits and help clean his cage, feed him, and wash his food and water bowls. It feels good to care for a creature that needs you.
Bella the Cow
The children of Green Chimneys extended a warm welcome to Bella, a miniature Jersey heifer that arrived from Pennsylvania in the fall of 2013. Bella was born on July 4, 2012 and at 4 feet high, will grow just a little bit bigger. Getting used to a new place is never easy but Bella found a loyal friend in her first few months. One student who had a particularly emotional connection to an animal that had passed on happened to meet Bella during her very first week. He immediately gravitated to her but was cautious in his interactions as he still missed his “favorite”. Over time, he became very comfortable around Bella, who was especially responsive to him until one day he declared her to be his new favorite animal. The friendship was cemented!
Bodhi is the Golden Retriever companion of Green Chimneys’ Admissions Supervisor and one of the most familiar faces on campus. Bodhi also holds the distinction of being a certified therapy dog and recently participated in Green Chimneys’ first funded research project studying the effect of involving a dog in social skills development training for children on the autism spectrum. Her full name, Bodhi Ani, means “Awakens/Enlightens Grace” and describes her personality and the role she embraces with the students on campus; Bodhi is very calm and grounded in her ability to awaken their potential while helping them to relax and feel at peace.
The Green Chimneys wildlife classroom is home to an adorable pair of chinchilla brothers who are often the first animals students want to hold. The brothers are inquisitive and playful but also very shy so students must be calm, and allow the chinchillas to come to them. The students love to build tunnels and play areas for the chinchillas and watch them in their favorite activities: taking dust baths (an instinctive act to clean their fur) and eating raisins. Considered to be the softest animal in the world, the chinchilla is a rodent native to the Andes Mountains of South America, and is a relative of the porcupine and guinea pig.
Crowned the best for falconry in medieval times, gyrfalcons were once reserved for kings. As the largest falcon in the world, with exquisite plumage ranging from bright white to deep charcoal, gyrs are revered for their powerful skill of flight. Their long wings make hunting waterfowl from 3,000-feet-high a feasible and fantastical feat. This falcon was flown in the sport of falconry for several years. When he began suffering from seizures, he was retired to the Green Chimneys Wildlife Center to live out the remainder of his days. Here, he, along with nearly 50 other unreleasable birds, are under the care of expert wildlife staff and teach our children about wildlife, the environment and the importance of good care.
Bo Peep arrived at just 3 months old from a local lamb and mutton farm that felt her slower growth would prevent her from keeping up with the rest of the flock. She was also in need of veterinary care for infections in both eyes and an upper respiratory infection. Bo received the care and love she needed and is now strong and healthy but remains a bit smaller than her peers. She loves following around her human friends and while she is housed with two goat kids she still prefers people, knocking staff with her front hoof if their attention veers even a minute.
Dixie the Pony
Dixie is only 40 inches tall but she has a big heart! This 21-year-old Shetland pony is very popular with Green Chimneys students and staff. Her sweet and affectionate disposition is easy to see – she’ll come over to the fence just to say hello and get rubbed. Dixie loves playing with our miniature horses Ari and Dinky and enjoys doing pony rides for our smaller riders, especially the Nature’s Nursery preschoolers. And student get a big kick out of her morning ritual: as soon as Dixie finishes her breakfast (grain), she instantly rolls around on the ground with glee!
Gracie & Reba
Donkeys Gracie and Reba have been residents of the farm since 1996 and are particularly valuable partners for the children because they offer immediate feedback on behavior. They are patient, shy and headstrong but because donkeys only acknowledge humans who appear calm, this pair helps children learn the skills necessary to approach them gently and quietly. Gracie and Reba also have an extraordinary bond and have difficulty being apart so students must keep this in mind, even for basic tasks such as walking them. If the donkeys lose sight of each other they will start calling to one another so students work together to make sure the pair can see each other for their entire journey outside. It’s a genuine lesson in the importance of paying attention to how someone other than yourself is feeling.
Sponsor a Camel
Bactrian camel Phoenix arrived in May of 2012 as a gift from the Sacred Camel Gardens in Northern California. Phoenix is a very self-assured but quiet and thoughtful camel, and an important partner in animal-assisted therapy sessions for Green Chimneys students. He has become a Goodwill Ambassador for Green Chimneys, helping to model our philosophy of involving children with animals and showing others that we care about all living beings.
Camels aren’t trained in the same way as horses or dogs; Phoenix was raised to be motivated by engagement and curiosity, which makes him an excellent therapy partner for children who need help strengthening their social skills, confidence, and ability to stay focused. In addition to structured therapeutic activities, Green Chimneys students have opportunities to expand their skills in helping to care for Phoenix in “Camel Club,” an after-school program that allows students to take part in grooming, and learn about camel anatomy and behaviors. Sponsor a Camel
Nutmeg the Goat
A school that partners children with animals for educational and therapeutic activities is an ideal home for Nutmeg, a Nubian goat donated by a family who kept her as a therapy animal for a child with special needs. Nutmeg arrived at Green Chimneys as an energetic one-year-old. Although she had lived solely with people, she immediately adapted to her new goat peers at the farm. At the same time, she presents a challenge to students: goats possess a strong will so taking a walk is not always a simple task. In order to work with a goat like Nutmeg, the student has to develop the confidence, and the skill needed to gently show the goat the right direction to go.
The flightless emu is the largest bird native to Australia, but this particular emu didn’t travel that far, he’s from Massachusetts. Since he was 3 weeks old, Eli was hand-raised by the children at Green Chimneys and is imprinted, especially comfortable around humans and even other animals. In fact, Eli doesn’t mind sharing his paddock with sheep Bo Peep. At first, children can be afraid of Eli’s intimidating large beak and beady eyes. Eli quickly surprises the children with his gentlemanly nature – he cozies up and sits down right next to them in order to get a good neck scratch!
There’s a reason this Russian Tortoise looks so iconic; it’s one of the most popular breeds sold in pet stores. This gentleman arrived at the Green Chimneys Wildlife Center as a rescue and secured a regular role in the classroom, helping students study the differences between tortoises and turtles; tortoises dwell on land, while turtles live in the water some or nearly all of the time. He has a reputation for being very active and outgoing and on warm, sunny days, the students take him outside to search for dandelion leaves to eat.
The red-tailed boa, also known as the boa constrictor, is native to the trees of South America — but this one hails from Long Island, New York! He was born and raised in captivity for three years until his owner decided to donate him to the Green Chimneys Wildlife program. In the boa's specialized enclosure, students can observe his movements and behaviors and even assist with feeding him rats.
With the completion of an elaborate new habitat built by Green Chimneys’ woodshop students, the Farm Science classroom was able to welcome Brownie into her new home. Brownie previously lived alone in her cage in the farm and wildlife office, but guinea pigs do best in larger environments. The new habitat allows her to live in a herd as she would in the wild, with many places to hide and ways to practice her skills. Brownie has always been a social creature, and she has taken over the guinea pig herd but is a very peaceful leader.