German Village Gazette

Nature buff launches program at Gateway

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Nate "Coyote" Peterson holds up an alligator snapping turtle he caught in the Florida Everglades. Peterson will be hosting the first All Our Wonderful Wild Animals from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 24, at the Gateway Film Center.

Nate "Coyote" Peterson is trying to share his love of the wild with local kids and other nature enthusiasts through a new program at the Gateway Film Center.

Peterson will host All Our Wonderful Wild Animals once a month at the complex, 1550 N. High St. in the campus area. The first show, free and open to the public, is scheduled from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, May 24.

He said it will be an interactive show featuring local wildlife experts, video from his various adventures and live animals.

"I am thrilled to be collaborating with Gateway Film Center on the All Our Wonderful Wild Animals event, which showcases our local wildlife and the organizations that help protect them," he said.

Each month, the program will have a different theme.

Special guest naturalists from Columbus Metro Parks, wildlife rehabilitators from the Ohio Wildlife Center and other local animal experts will help Peterson talk about the diversity of animals of Ohio, including owls, raccoons, deer, coyotes and American bison.

One of his guests will be "Gator" Dave Weaston, a reptile expert who will bring live alligators to the shows.

Peterson, who lives in Westerville, said part of his mission is to get guests interested in seeing species in their natural habitats and visiting the Ohio Wildlife Center, where injured, sick, displaced or orphaned animals are taken.

In the meantime, Peterson's show, Breaking Trail, has been picked up by the Discovery Digital Network's channel Animalist, an Internet TV program.

The show follows Peterson's journeys through Ohio, Florida, Arizona and Montana. The first of 26 episodes, each about five minutes long, is scheduled to air in August.

Peterson said his love of nature began when he was growing up in Newbury, a little burg outside of Chardon, Ohio. He said he was surrounded by lakes, streams and woods, where he would try to catch turtles, bugs and snakes.

His devotion to the outdoors continued while his mother would truck his sister and him around the country, camping in a trailer.

Peterson said one of his favorite destinations was Arizona and one of his favorite animals to catch was the regal horned lizard. It also happened to be one of the favorite foods of the roadrunner -- so Peterson would follow roadrunners in hopes of catching his favorite animal.

That's how he earned his nickname: His mother called him "coyote," a reference to the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, who would chase the Roadrunner in the popular Warner Brothers cartoons.

Peterson studied film and video production at Ohio State University, but never lost his passion for wildlife.

"Everything I know about animals is self-taught," he said.