The Pratt Education Center, Aquariums and Fish Hatchery are operated by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. The emphasis of the Wildlife Education and Resource Center is to help the public discover the wildlife of Kansas. Displays, dioramas, and exhibits provide close encounters with the both living and preserved native birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles of Kansas.
The Aquarium Room at the back of the Education Center contains twelve 400-600 gallon aquariums displaying fish species that are native to Kansas or that have been successfully introduced into Kansas. Other rooms include live snakes and prairie dogs, an interesting exhibit of contraband that has been confiscated by the Department of Wildlife & parks, and a room with over one hundred and twenty eight species of preserved birds and their eggs.
Many of the exhibits are interactive.
The Pratt Fish Hatchery is on the land surrounding the Education Center. Started in 1903, the hatchery has 83 one acre ponds. Fish species raised at the Pratt Hatchery include walleye, wiper (white bass/striped bass hybrid), sauger, saugeye (walleye/sauger hybrid), largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill. On the day that I visited, a biologist showed me through the building where the fish are actually hatched. Channel Catfish had just hatched a few days before and there were about a dozen tanks, each holding 160,000-210,000 nine day old catfish.
Brood fish and forage fish are maintained in the ponds and I saw a great blue heron, two green herons and a mink taking advantage of the abundant food. A couple of weeks later, a pair of black-bellied whistling ducks were seen on the Pratt Hatchery ponds. They have been recorded only 19 times in Kansas since 1956.
L-7/09. copyright 2009-2011 by Keith Stokes