A Few Lessons in Zoology

by Julie LeMay

Julie LeMayThere was silence and a quiet anticipation as the children sat around the large table awaiting the arrival of Kyle and Nicole from the Woodland Park Zoo.

To get the boys and girls off on the right track, Kyle asked what animals they liked: the resounding answers were horses and dogs, with a few others thrown in, such as the ring-tailed lemur, birds, and elephants.

One of the young boys with a very inquisitive mind kept Kyle busy answering questions about animal behavior, and how they are cared for, kept clean and fed.

Digging into their traveling box of “goodies,” the first item to emerge was the skull of a cougar. Oh, what large, nasty-looking teeth! Kyle took the skull around the table so that each child could feel the cheekbone, eye socket, and teeth. “Please keep the mouth closed,” was the nervous plea from one of the children.

Other objects that were passed around, much to the excitement and interest of the children, were a beaver skull, jawbone of an elk and of a black bear, and fur of the black and brown bear, which was surprisingly rough in texture. The interest and attention span were a joy to watch. Many questions were asked, and inquiring minds were fed with knowledge of the various diets of the different animals.

Sniff! Sniff! Noses were put to work as small containers of plants commonly consumed by the herbivores were passed around, and the children could distinguish among the scents.

All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience. Kyle and Nicole left with the fun assignment for the children to listen carefully for the sounds of animals in their own backyards.

The Woodland Park Zoo Wild Wise Program will be returning to the Louis Braille School for further presentations during this upcoming academic year. Website: zoo.org.

Julie LeMay is a Louis Braille School volunteer