Scales & Tales

Park Ranger with Scales and Tales Hawk 

Many people consider it a tremendous thrill to catch a glimpse of a mysterious owl as it flies across a dark country road at night, or to see a turtle on a log basking by the river. Fewer people have seen these creatures from merely a few feet away. The Maryland Park Service’s Scales & Tales Program offers that opportunity to everyone!

Scales & Tales, an environmental education program of the Maryland Park Service, affords people the opportunity to see live wildlife, mostly native to Maryland, up close and personal. This informative​and entertaining program uses live non-releasable birds of prey and reptiles to promote stewardship of our wildlife and other natural resources. Through the stories, or "tales" of how these animals come into the care of the program, Scales & Tales naturalists discuss very important environmental issues, such as loss of habitat, environmental pollution, resource management and biodiversity.

Ranger Besley with screech owlScales & Tales presents these educational messages to the people of Maryland on a regular basis. Through formal program presentations at parks, schools, community centers, senior centers, and other similar facilities, as well as wildlife displays at numerous fairs and festivals, Scales & Tales reaches hundreds of thousands of people every year.

Ten parks across the state offer Scales & Tales programs. Some locations may have a small collection with only reptiles, while a wide range of birds are housed at the large aviaries.

Scales & Tales Programs

Scales & T​ales​​ is presented in one of two formats. Ranger Keither with corn snakeFor smaller groups and individual classes, naturalists present programs highlighting several of the animals and their stories. For larger groups, Scales & Tales features wildlife displays- which are popular at many fairs and festivals throughout the state. These displays feature birds and reptiles exhibited in an informative and interactive manner.

Arrangements for programs should be made well in advance. Scales & Tales programs may be presented on-site at State Park facilities (preferred) or nearby off-site in public areas. Programs can be provided in public locations such as schools and libraries for audiences such as scout troops, church groups or social clubs. Programming, especially at off-site locations, may be limited due to staff availability. Some locations have aviaries that offer scheduled tours or general open hours that may provide alternative opportunities to learn about these fascinating creatures.

Scales & Tales Contact Information

A fee is charged for Scales & Tales programs and displays. To inquire about possibly programs or for general information about Scales & Tales at a particular park, contact the Scales & Tales Program nearest you.

Assateague State Park​
(Worcester County)
410-641-2120
E-mail: Assateague.statepark@maryland.gov

Cunningham Falls State Park
(Frederick County)
301-271-3676
E-mail: fjacob.doyle@maryland.gov

Deep Creek Lake State Park
(Garrett County)
301-387-7067
E-mail: Samantha.dixon@maryland.gov

Elk Neck State Park
(Cecil County)
*Reptiles Only
410-287-5333​​
E-mail: elkneck.statepark@maryland.gov

Gunpowder Falls State Park​
(Baltimore County)
*Reptiles Only
410-592-2897​
E-mail: Nicole.staab@maryland.gov

Pocomoke River State Park
(Worcester County)
410-632-2566
E-mail: pocomoke.statepark@maryland.gov

Rocky Gap State Park (Allegany County) 301-722-1480
E-mail: kathryn.barger@maryland.gov

Tuckahoe State Park
(Caroline County)
410-820-1668
E-mail: tuckahoe.statepark@maryland.gov

Soldiers Delight NEA- Patapsco Valley State Park (Baltimore County)
410-461-5005
E-mail: soldiersdelight.statepark@maryland.gov

Southern Maryland Recreational Complex
 * Reptiles Only

​Merkle Natural Resources Management Area
(Prince George’s County)
443-510-9920​​​

Smallwood State Park ​
(Charles County)
301-743-7613
E-mail: smallwood.statepark@maryland.gov

Scales & Tales Program Administrator, Chief of Interpretation

Ranger Melissa Boyle Acuti
E-mail: melissa.boyle@maryland.gov​​​​​​​​​​

How Can I Help?

Scales & Tales could not help wildlife through education without the generous donations of our many supporters. Find out how you can help support Scales & Tales in our valuable mission through the Animal Adoption Program, available at select locations. You may also offer assistance in the form of a monetary donation, or donations of goods and supplies for the animals. Contact your nearest park directly to find out what their needs are and how you can help. Many parks have a “Wish List” of enrichment items for their animals. Some of the programs also need volunteers. All Scales & Tales volunteers must complete rigorous training.

Online Services


Contact the Park Service

  • To Report Violations of Park Rules: 1-800-825-7275 (Park Watch) or 1-410-260-8888 (Communications Center)
  • General Information: 1-800-830-3974 (Annapolis Office)
  • Reservations: 1-888-432-2267
  • Email Us
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