We’re celebrating Scouts with a special offer!

iStock.com

iStock.com

To celebrate our Scout Day event coming up on April 26, we’re having a special with our scout program day workshops! Book by 4 p.m. on Friday, April 25 for our remaining spring scout programs (see dates below) and receive a $2 discount per scout.

2014 Spring Workshops

  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3: Cub Scouts (Webelos), Naturalist Activity
  • 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3: Cub Scouts (Wolves), Birds Elective
  • 2 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17: Boy Scouts, Environmental Science Merit Badge
  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 17: Girls Scouts, It’s Your Story, Tell It! Animal Habitats

The offer doesn’t stop there. You can always privately book one of our scout program day workshops for your entire troop or pack any time of the year. Book any workshop (see entire list below) by May 31, 2014 and receive a $2 discount per scout!

Some conditions do apply…

You must have a minimum of 12 scouts booked for the program, or pay a $100 minimum. This offer can only be applied from now through September 2014. Subject to date availability. Please call ahead and find out if we have a date open for you!

Available workshops:

Cub Scouts

  • Tigers Electives 31, 32, 34, 42, 47 and Wolves Achievement 5
  • Bears, Sharing your World with Wildlife Achievement
  • Webelos, Naturalist Activity
  • Wolves, Birds Elective

Boy Scouts

  • Environmental Science Merit Badge

Girl Scouts

  • Daisies, 5 Flowers, 4 Stories, 3 Cheers for Animals!
  • Daisies, Welcome to the Daisy Flower Garden
  • Brownies, WOW! Wonders of Water
  • Brownies, Naturalist (Bugs!)
  • Juniors, It’s Your Story, Tell It! Animal habitats
  • Cadets, It’s Your Story, Tell It! Animal helpers

- Kenny Nelson, Interpretation Coordinator

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Water bottles and recycling Pt. 1

This is Part 1 of a blog about bottled water from two of our ZooTeen Leader participants:

Every week at our ZooTeen Leaders meeting we talk about important environmental issues in our world right now and what we can do to change them for the better through fun experiments and interesting meetings with the local residents of the Zoo.

Last Monday was our weekly ZooTeen Leaders meeting, and it started out with an interesting icebreaker where we had a slip of paper with a certain animal’s name written on it. Then we got to go around the room and ask “yes” or “no” questions to try and figure out what animal we were. It was fun walking around the room and listening to some of the crazy guesses the other kids in the group had and struggling myself with what I was.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

After we finished the icebreaker, we broke into groups to help plan the Go Green! Recycle Rally today (April 19). Each of the groups had a different topic to help with and the group I was in helped plan when people would be collecting the old electronics and other items brought in to be recycled, and when they would be out helping to pick up our Zoo. After that we watched a video that explained how we should pack the items brought in for recycling.

Splitting up back into our original groups, we started up on our topic for the night, “Water Bottles and Recycling.” We talked about how bottled water started not many years ago, and how wasteful it is. Years ago there was an ad that talked about how better Fiji brand water was than tap water from Cleveland, so people started testing tap water verses Fiji water and they found out that not only did Fiji water cost almost 2,000% more than tap water, but people also chose the tap water over Fiji water in a blind taste test. So learning this, we did our own blind taste test. We had three cups of water and we had to choose which was the best tasting to us: Brita-purified water, tap water and bottled water. Guess which one won? Yep, most choose tap water over both the Brita water and bottled water! What does that say about bottled water?

Here are some other facts about bottled water we learned that night:

  • It costs more to clean up and recycle the plastic bottles than it does to purify tap water.
  • One third of bottled water is just tap water with minerals added.
  • Plastic bottles can take hundreds or even thousands of years to biodegrade.

Not only is it so much cheaper for us to go out and buy a reusable water bottle, but it helps our environment out too. It keeps plastic caps and bottles out of our yards and ponds, which helps out our wildlife so much as well.

After our discussion we met one of the local ducks, and we talked about how trash ends up in the pond and what the effects are of garbage and waste in the ducks’ environment.

Megan Leight, ZooTeen Leader

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Water bottles and recycling Part 2

This is Part 2 of a blog about bottled water from two of our ZooTeen Leader participants:

iStock.com

iStock.com

Have you wondered why some people stubbornly insist on drinking only filtered or bottled water? After all, the tap water tastes much better, right? Well, it turns out that the large majority of people in blind taste tests agree with you. The ZooTeen Leaders replicated a test that has been repeated many times, with a similar result. You can read more about that experiment in Part 1 of this blog.

So, if our tap water is obviously superior in taste to bottled or filtered water, then why do we even bother with bottled water? We explored these questions with the help of an informative and accurate video, The Story of Bottled Water

Photo by Walter Brooks

Photo by Walter Brooks

Afterwards, we had the opportunity to meet Bert the duck. We learned how everything we put into the water has an impact on the wildlife existing there. For example, Bert was more than willingly to show us that ducks are inquisitive creatures who find plastic very interesting, when he tried to snatch a plastic bag out of presenter Julie’s hands. Ducks will try to use plastic bags to build their nests, instead of natural materials. The plastic bags aren’t breathable, so could suffocate the unborn ducks who need get their nutrients through their shells. Another is the six-pack of plastic rings, which can strangle the birds. A simple step to preventing this is using a pair of scissors to cut the rings, or not buying them at all.

In addition, even people with a good heart may be inadvertently harming the very critters they are trying to help. When people feed ducks bread crumbs or crackers they become bloated, as they can’t properly digest carbohydrates. As you can see, what we do has an impact, so do your best to be conscientious about your actions!

-Emily Lang, ZooTeen Leader

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What’s been happening with our ZooTeen Leaders?

The ZooTeen Leaders program is a year-long opportunity for teens to learn at the Zoo through activities focusing on conservation issues, local and global environmental issues, communication skills and career development.

Kiana Clevinger, a ZooTeen Leader participant, reports on a recent meeting below (click the image to make it larger):

Zoo Blog Post  Kiana

 

 

 

 

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Have a question for an expert? Find a ZooTeen Leader!

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photos by Kelli O’Brien

If you paid a visit last summer to the Seneca Park Zoo, you probably had a conversation with one of our informative ZooTeens; perhaps about the palm oil crisis affecting orangutans, or the rise in poaching affecting elephants. How did they do? Did they know their stuff? Were they biased or balanced?

When you consider how many competing ideas are out there about conservation topics, it can be pretty difficult to find reliable research, or good advice about the best steps you can take to help protect wild animals and preserve our environment. Our ZooTeens spend a great deal of time researching exactly that, giving them a great foundation to expertly answer any questions you might have! And we help them get it right.

I was fortunate enough to assist with developing these research skills at a recent ZooTeen Leaders session. Together, Julie Babulski, one of the ZooTeen Leaders program staff, and I investigated claims (or assertions) made by a group. We paid special attention to whether a claim came from a biased source or not and whether it was supported by evidence or opinion. We made sure to evaluate the quality and objectivity of several different claims, including magazine articles, advertisements and informational brochures.

DSC_6534In order to practice some of the notions we discussed, we then created factual, but biased, advertisements to show how an agenda can sway the presentation of information. One great example used a Center for Disease Control statistic to advertise the danger of snake bites and then supported their importance to ecosystems with a quote from a National Geographic article. Both of these are factual – snakes are extremely important members of our ecosystem, but the best way to stay safe is to avoid them when you see them. Can you spot the bias that these expert, reliable sources might have?

Identifying bad claims can prove useful in all sorts of ways! It might help you to select the best foodstuffs for your family’s needs, help scientists and engineers review each other’s work, or even help uncover the best steps you can take to help preserve our environment!

If you have any questions about any claims you might read about wildlife or conservation, feel free to stop by the Zoo and ask any of our knowledgeable docents, educators, or animal care staff — or starting on July 7, any of our stupendous ZooTeens. I hope I don’t seem too biased for saying so!

– Tim Shank, Interpreter / Educator

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Summer is just around the corner

Photo by Walter Brooks

Photo by Walter Brooks

It’s almost that time! Summer programs start Memorial Day weekend and there is a lot to do at the Zoo. Did you know that in addition to new animal demonstration programs and a new stage show we also offer you the chance to join in a party for the animals? We have birthday celebrations for many of our animals – it’s another chance for some family fun!

Check out the following animals’ birthdays, May through September:

  • May 21 – Tiger
  • June 14 – Snow leopard
  • June 21 – Sea lion
  • August 2 – Penguin
  • August 9 – Meerkat
  • September 13 - Orangutan
Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

These birthdays are a great celebration of the animals, and of the quality care we provide for them at the Zoo. Come to an animal birthday and see the animals enjoy special treats! Talk with our knowledgeable volunteers and keepers and enjoy the magnificent animals of the Zoo! All animals birthdays happen from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, with a birthday sing-along at 2 p.m.

Celebrate with your family and our animals!

- Kenny Nelson, Interpretation Coordinator

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ZooTeen Leaders kick-off

Photos by Anneke Nordmark

Photos by Anneke Nordmark

human knot 2.24.14The ZooTeen Leaders program is off to a great start! There were 22 participants during our first meeting in February and after some icebreakers and getting to know each other a bit, we took a night tour of the Zoo.

ZooTeen Leaders is a year-round program designed to give teens the opportunity to delve deeper in conservation issues and take a leadership role during our summer ZooTeen program. We’ll be diving into conservation issues around water, recycling, energy use and specific animals and habitats. We’ll explore what we already know about these issues, what problems are affecting our local area and the global community and what we can do to make a difference.

During our weekly meetings, we will conduct group research, have visits from guest speakers, take field trips and participate in hands-on activities and data collection. ZooTeen Leaders will further develop their skills in writing and speaking to communicate conservations messages to wide audiences. And of course we’ll have fun doing it! In June, we will develop training for participants in the summer ZooTeen program. Stay tuned for updates on our activities!

The summer ZooTeen program is accepting applications through April 1, 2014. Get yours in to be a part of the fun!

- Anneke Nordmark, Youth and School Groups Program Coordinator

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