Zoo campers learn about animals, nature (Video)

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

March 11, 2013 at 9 p.m.
Updated March 11, 2013 at 10:12 p.m.

Arwyn, a 1-year-old great horned owl, peered at a piece of food on a stick from the rear of the Texas Zoo's outdoor stage.

It was Arwyn's first time performing for children, and the stage pews Monday were packed with Journey Spring Break Camp kids.

On a signal given by assistant animal curator Sean Sutherland, Arwyn flew toward the stage to collect his prize.

But shortly before landing on his trainer's falconer glove, the owl made an unexpected right turn and landed on 9-year-old camper Orlando Dileo.

"I thought it was fun," the Dudley Elementary School student said, smiling. "It didn't hurt. It just felt like someone was touching my back."

Zoo staff quickly scooped up Arwyn and finished the animal and reptile show Monday afternoon.

Arwyn was among several zoo creatures to be featured during the show as part of the zoo's annual weeklong spring break camp that aims to connect elementary school children with nature's most exotic creatures.

Camp kicked off Monday.

"Today was a free day for the kids to walk around the zoo and be introduced to what they're going to learn this week," said Alyssa Conrad, Texas Zoo program specialist. "We hope every day they're building on what they learned the day before."

Throughout the week, Conrad said, the children will be learning about animals and their role in nature, as well as what role they have in protecting the environment.

Orlando said he returned to camp this year because he had so much fun attending camp last spring break.

"We learned about animals and the food chain," Orlando said, reflecting on last year. "Today we're learning about weather and what's living and non-living."

Before the week is over, Orlando said he hopes he gets a chance to play with reptiles, especially the big snakes.

"I like them because they're more colorful. I want one as a pet," he said.

Other campers said they, too, are looking forward to playing with animals and learning as much as they can this week at zoo camp.

"I like to know facts about animals. It's just for fun," said Morgan Meyer, 11. "I don't want to touch the snakes, though."



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