Campers get hands on with animals

Published on Monday, 14 July 2014 18:14 - Written by Emily Guevara,


Caldwell Zoo educator Stephen LeBlanc held up the ball python named Monty for the children to see.

He told the children that the snake, which is about 30 years old, is full-grown, has smooth scales and muscles she uses to move.

“Where does she use the restroom?” one child asked.

“All snakes go potty down here by their tail,” LeBlanc answered.

“Where’s their potty thingy?” a child said.

“Don’t worry about it,” LeBlanc answered.

After a few more minutes of talking about Monty and how she laid eggs on two occasions, LeBlanc put her back inside her glass house.

The lesson was part of the Myths and Legends camp for 9- to 11-year-olds at the Caldwell Zoo last week.

The camp is one of many taking place this summer, with different camps targeted for different ages groups from 4-year-olds through high school students.

Among the camps are those about animal babies, dinosaurs, “Zooper Heroes,” animal behavior and more.

LeBlanc said during the Myths and Legends camp children heard about stories of mermaids and sailors, the chupacabra, Bigfoot and more.

Children also toured portions of the zoo each day and played games related to what they learned about animals.

“My goal for this camp is for them to enjoy the art of storytelling,” he said, adding that they related it to animals as much as possible.

On Friday, the kids visited the Uzuri Outpost, where they got to look at different creatures such as ferrets and touched a snake and tortoise shells.

“Are these real?” one child asked of the tortoise shells.

“Yeah,” LeBlanc said. “You can lift them up and see (where) the spine is connected.”

McKenna Meador, 9, a fourth-grader, said she really enjoyed the camp.

“It’s amazing so far,” McKenna said of the camp. “I love it, and I’m very sad that we’re leaving very soon, but I’m happy for all we got to do.”

McKenna wants to be a zookeeper when she grows up. She said she has loved animals all her life.

Natalie Constante, 9, a fourth-grader, said she liked learning about animals and got to make crafts related to what she learned. She also wants to become a zookeeper when she grows up except she doesn’t want to deal with spiders because she does not like them.

Robert Dilday, 9, a fourth-grader, said camp was very cool because he got to pet animals, visit the zoo, make things and play games.

In the Dinosaurs camps for 6- to 8-year-olds, the kids learned about different types of dinosaurs, made crafts related to what they learned about, toured the zoo grounds, observed reptiles and birds and drew comparisons between those animals and dinosaurs.

Education curator Linda Kunze said among that age group, the boys especially are very interested in dinosaurs. So the camp has given them an opportunity to share their knowledge and develop an appreciation for what was.

Jackson Wood, 6, a first-grader, said his favorite part of the week was seeing the animals.

“I just like animal stuff and bugs and dinosaurs,” he said.