Time to go to class–at the zoo

If you want the highest probability of seeing the animals at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, visit in the morning. Maybe at opening. Maybe you’re gathering out front before the gates even open, so when the ticket booths are finally manned, you’re the first through the gate.

Amanda Hubbard, at right, teaches Exotic Animals, a class in the Agriculture program.
Amanda Hubbard, at right, teaches Exotic Animals, a class in the Agriculture program.

That’s how Amanda Hubbard takes her Exotic Animals class to the zoo. Hubbard graduated from the College’s Agriculture program in December 2015, and she noticed that students interested in working with animals had an excellent resource at their disposal in the zoo. She worked with her friend, Ashley Bean, a giraffe keeper at the zoo, to get the class going. The class is currently in its first semester.

While Exotic Animals traditionally meets on campus, it does take field trips to local spots like Black Pine Animal Sanctuary in Albion and the zoo. On this recent zoo visit, Hubbard asked her class to suggest which animals they most wanted to learn about. In three hours, the group visited exhibits including the orangutans, the giraffes, and the Komodo dragon.

“It’s more hands-on learning,” Hubbard says. “They’ll be able to look at the animals we’re talking about instead of just looking at pictures. We can see them eat and how they interact with those of the same species.”

Take the giraffes. During the visit, a male giraffe dipped his head under a female.

“He’s testing her urine,” Bean tells the class. He uses two tiny ducts on the roof of his mouth, his flehmen’s response, to test if the female is fertile. “If she is cycling, he’ll be able to breed with her.”

Click on images to zoom and for caption info.

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