1-31-2008

Contact: Bill Mitsch, (614) 292-9774

Muskrat Love: Meet Olentangy Olga, Ohio State's answer to Punxsutawney Phil

On Saturday (2/2) Ohio State will commemorate Groundhog Day and World Wetlands Day by introducing a second critter and new symbolic mammal, a muskrat named OSU Olentangy Olga. Olga will be introduced during a program from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Ohio State's Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, 352 W. Dodridge St.

The event is an opportunity to see the winter wonderland of OSU's wetlands and learn more about World Wetlands Day. At approximately 9:30 a.m., officials will take everyone out to the wetland to see Olentangy Olga's hut, which is marked by a sign. There also will be a preview of "Rebirth of a River: The Olentangy River Documentary."

According to William Mitsch, director of Ohio State's Wetlands Research Park, Olga's introduction serves as a reminder of the functions and values of wetlands in the Midwest and North America. Wetlands are in need of protection, as more than one-half have been lost around the world. Ohio has lost 90% of its wetlands.

The muskrat (Odatra zibethicus) is a native rodent of significance in most freshwater and coastal wetlands in North America. Primarily an herbivore in wetlands, the muskrat plays an important role in managing a wetland's hydrology and plant development, and itself serves as the food of many different raptors and other carnivores.

WHAT: Ohio State will commemorate World Wetland Day and introduce a new symbolic mammal, a muskrat named "OSU Olentangy Olga"

WHEN: 8-10 a.m. on Saturday (2/2). The trip to Olga's hut is at approximately 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Ohio State's Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, 352 W. Dodridge St.