Barn Owl (Photo by Dr. Eric Gofreed)

Arizona’s Raptor Experience, LLC was developed as a “sister” organization to the Institute for Environmental Learning, Inc. (the Institute) when Paul and Anne moved from New York state to Arizona. The laws that govern and protect captive birds of prey require that native species be held under a not-for-profit organization. While many of the birds under our management are native species, several are not and therefore part of our business is structured as a limited liability corporation – Arizona’s Raptor Experience. Here we want to describe the Institute and its history.

The Institute was founded and directed by award winning naturalist and educator Paul T. Schnell, and was incorporated in 1992 as a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit conservation education organization. In 1982 Paul created Conservation Lecture Series where he taught principles of ecology and resource management using his slide photographs (10 years prior to the digital age!) and his red-tailed hawk Mingo that he hunted for falconry.

Hangin’ with the locals in Namibia

Sunflower Field of Dreams in Upstate New York

Once established, Paul and Anne did programs annually through the Institute that were seen by tens of thousands. Paul and Liberty (one of only two traveling bald eagles in NY!) were “regulars” at the New York Power Authority’s Wildlife Festival in Lewiston, NY each September since its inception in 1985 until the Schnell’s departure in June 2015 to AZ.

Government venues included USFWS and NYSDEC sanctioned programs while myriad schools, colleges, and service groups rounded out their popular statewide offerings. In 2007, Paul added Bron-yr-aur, a magnificent adult golden eagle to the raptor lineup.

In January 2009, Liberty (already a conservation Rock Star due to her huge public appeal) travelled to Manhattan to appear on the popular syndicated cooking show hosted by Rachael Ray. In January 2011, she was a guest on the Today Show. In 1997, Liberty participated in the federal de-listing of wild Bald Eagles where she appeared with then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt at Montezuma NWR in central NY.

Peregrine Falcons: Defiant! and Cade

Future Falconer?

Now in Arizona, the mission of the Institute, as always, remains the same. Book us today for a tailored program, photo session and/or visit.

The mews, native raptors and biological specimens are held pursuant to Federal, state and local regulations. Visits and photo sessions are by appointment.

Wilder Times in New York: Cougars, Gray Wolves and Eagles.
Original artwork by renowned artist Leonard Rusin, 1991.