Dozens of excited and curious children touched live aquatic animals, scaly reptiles and desert tortoises, watched hunting hawks and owls and played games at Menifee’s first Wildlife Day in Central Park, Saturday, March 18.

The inaugural event, jointly sponsored by Menifee’s Park Rangers and the Sierra Club, was to familiarize and protect the many wild creatures in their community and was termed a success by city leaders.

Menifee City Council Members Ricky Estrada and Dean Deines and Mayor Bill Zimmerman were on hand with two Menifee Park Rangers to welcome children and their parents to the special event. Sierra Club representatives offered free raffles for the children along with games and fun challenges for the young participants at the park stage.

“This is a great event because we’re giving the city of Menifee an opportunity to enrich themselves with wildlife. We are so excited that this is the first year we’re doing this, and we hope to bring everyone a new positive experience and education on the wildlife in Menifee,” Estrada said.

Menifee Park Ranger Brandon Samson said he and partner Amanda Ingraham “want people to come out and learn about nature conservation and appreciate wildlife in our area.” He said the Wildlife Appreciation Day is a way for people to come out to see what the city of Menifee has to offer. He said the event is “a kickoff for the spring” events planned in the city.

The event included a number of information and display booths from TEAM Temecula, Elsinore, Anza and Murrieta with the San Jacinto Basin Conservation District, San Diego Humane Society Project Wildlife Rehab Hospital, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Discover the Desert Coachella Valley Preserve, California Traveling Tidepools, the Sierra Club, LLLReptile and Supply Company Inc., California Hawkers Club, Menifee Park Rangers, Riverside University Health System and Bureau of Land Management. Food trucks from Missy’s Hotdogs, 4N1 Cafe Coffee and Quiroz Tacos were also on hand.

Zimmerman said, “We have so many kids that are here today meeting our park rangers and state game wardens, where they’re learning about that job and hopefully will help us recruit people interested in a great career.”

Pam Nelson, Chair of the Sierra Club’s Santa Margarita Group said, “Our focus is getting native plants and rewilding places and managing the native plant sphere. We want to get more native plants in and work on more wildlife crossings on I-15, particularly in Temecula and in the San Jacinto Basin and Wildlife area.”

Tony Ault can be reached at

Tony Ault