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Students get up close and personal with spiders at Texas Zoo

By Gheni_Platenburg
Oct. 5, 2010 at 5:05 a.m.

Jonah Cantu, 3, sings "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with The Texas Zoo education curator Karalyn Jones during a Zoosday program called Eat up!: Spiders. Tuesday's program taught kids about spiders, specifically how they eat. Jones said she teaches the program because she wants children "to know the basics of the world around them so they can safely explore."

Several children were caught up in a web of interest when it came to Charlotte, the not so Itsy Bitsy Spider, on Tuesday morning during the Texas Zoo's weekly Zoosday session.

About 12 kids gathered outside near the zoo's educational building to learn more about Charlotte, one of the zoo's two Texas tarantulas, and spiders in general.

"A lot of kids just don't know about the world around them," said Karalyn Jones, the zoo's education curator. "We can help them start building curiosity about the world around them."

Every Tuesday morning, Jones hosts Zoosday, an educational session geared toward teaching kids in pre-kindergarten through elementary about various animals including snakes, owls and bats.

In addition to getting up close and personal with Charlotte, the students learned about spiders' anatomy, dietary habits and silk web-building capabilities.

In a hands-on demonstration, the participants used angel hair pasta and glue to create their own mock spider webs.

"He liked looking at the spiders. The arts and crafts are a little bit over his head, but he likes to watch me do it," 27-year-old Victoria resident Kym Wiggins said about her 1-year-old son, Thomas Leal. "The lessons she does are always really cute."

Like every session, Jones said the participants' favorite part of the program is getting to observe the animals up close.

Zoosday veteran Brigette Dupnik, 29, said her 22-month-old son, Travis Davis, has become a more nurturing person since he has been coming to Zoosday.

"It's helping him be nicer to animals. He used to hit our dogs, but since he's been coming here, he's stopped that," said Dupnik. Now, he's trying to give them hugs and kisses.

Meanwhile, newcomer Cassandra Sanchez, 26, said she decided to bring her 2-year-old son, Tristan, to the event because of his fondness for spiders.

"He liked it," said Sanchez. "I decided to bring him because he really likes the song 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' and since it's close to Halloween, I thought he would enjoy the spiders."

Cassandra's husband, Jimmy, viewed the event as a fun, family outing.

"Anytime I have time to spend with Tristan or any other kids, I take advantage of it," he said.

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