The Capital of Virginia has many jewels in its crown. Some of them, like the James River, are rough cut and remind us of the wild that existed before civilization popped up around it. Some of them, like the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, are cultured and completely change appearance depending on the light. I like to think of Maymont Park as a highly facetted diamond, if you look at it long enough one of the facets will catch your eye.
Maymont is many things. It is a historical mansion constructed in the 1890’s at the request of “Major” James H. Dooley (Aside: While Mr. Dooley did in fact serve in the Confederate Army like every other good Richmond gentleman of his time, he never actually obtained the rank of Major. In fact, he never attained any rank in the CSA! The Major is an honorific title, so I must insist on the quotation marks.) and named for his wife Sallie May. The house itself is now a museum with costumed staff leading tours and walking the grounds, especially around Christmas. Think of Downton Abbey without the accents. It is also a sprawling 100 acre park set pretty much in the geographical middle of RVA and is an extremely popular site for family picnics overlooking the James. It is also a horticulturalists dream with Italian and Japanese Gardens and a plethora of plant life. My favorite though, is that Maymont is a sort-of-kind-of zoo within the actual city limits.
More specifically Maymont is a Nature Center, Petting Zone, and refuge for animals that have been injured and cannot return to the wild. Maymont is home to… (deep breath) goats, cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, peacocks, peahens (female peacocks, not a separate creature but it’s so fun they have their own name!), Sitka deer, a bobcat (supposedly… I’ve never actually seen it and am convinced that someone laughs hysterically anytime someone comes to that exhibit), gray foxes, ducks, turtles, bald eagles, vultures, hawks, owls, bison (!), otters, and bears… oh my. (Breathing in.) Here are some photos focusing on the wildlife of Maymont. As you will see, my favorite section is obviously the raptors.
I hope you enjoyed this brief little tour of some of Maymont’s animals! It’s worth mentioning that they are all native to the Commonwealth of Virginia, so keep your eyes open for them in the wild. I didn’t have time to visit the Nature Center, but $3 to spend a day staring at river otters is an awesome deal!
I hope each and every one of you has a wonderful holiday season, a merry Christmas, and a wonderful New Year!