By Julie Krienke
DELANO, MN Curiosity, eagerness, fascination, and entertainment are just some of the emotions the crowd of Delano children experienced as they watched naturalist Chris Lanphear of the Minnesota Zoo show them a wide variety of animals.
The Minnesota Zoo’s Zoomobile made a trip to Delano Public Library June 9 for a 1 p.m. presentation.
“The Zoomobile is a great way to start the summer at the libary,” Carol Plocher, branch manager at the Delano Public Library, said. “I love it when the zoo can come to us and chidren can see animals from the wild up-close and learn about their habitats.”
Children ages 3 to 12 eagerly listened to Lanphear’s explanations of different animals at the zoo.
“Approximately 220 children and adults heard about five different animals from Chris, the zoo naturalist,” Plocher said.
Lanphear provided the youngsters with an educational experience by using live animals from the Minnesota Zoo.
Zoomobile assemblies typically last 45 minutes and include four to five species of animals.
The animals that were shown to Delano children included a tarantula, snake, chinchilla, dog, and hawk.
Lanphear gave detailed information about each animal, including where they come from and how they survive.
“Her presentation was very fun and educational,” Plocher said.
Many of the animals that were exhibited come from around the world, but some are native to North America. Lanphear encouraged children to look for these animals in their everyday lives.
In order to make the presentation hands-on, Lanphear asked the crowd of children questions and accepted volunteers to pet each animal.
The children’s fascination of the animals was clear by the shrieks of excitement that could be heard when Lanphear revealed a new animal.
According to Plocher, this program was made possible by funds from the legacy grant.
Zoomobile programs offer unique educational experiences for communities throughout the state. Presentations can be formal or informal, and they are flexible with the needs of the group.
According to the Minnesota Zoo’s website, Zoomobile contains a team of trained naturalists who travel to school and community events throughout Minnesota.
Besides live animals, Zoomobile naturalists also use biological artifacts and story telling. Audience participation helps to form a personal connection between the speaker and children.
Zoomobile presentations can be enjoyed by children of all ages because of the educational and enjoyable setting.
Naturalists at Zoomobile are willing to work with the community and school to adapt the program for the audience. Presentations can be given for any age level and in any environment.
According to the site, the goal of Zoomobile programs is to form a sense of stewardship and respect for the diversity and complexity of all life on earth.
Zoomobile helps the Minnesota Zoo instill in communities an appreciation for animals around the world.
In order to achieve this goal, Zoomobile attempts to capture the imagination of children during the presentation.
Naturalists at Zoomobile hope to inspire audiences with curiosity about the world around them.
Animals presented during the programs are usually native to our state. Children are informed about the ecology of Minnesota, as well as other animals around the globe, during the course of the program.
A popular topic for Zoomobile presentations is the tropical rain forest. During this particular program, naturalists use a variety of animals and props that will bring the tropical rainforest to life.
Zoomobile seminar programs include live animals and other props. However, assemblies meant for the classroom setting are formal and include educational discussions.
Zoomobile school programs can even meet the Minnesota State Science Standards that must be fulfilled by teachers.
Whether in a school setting or at a community event, the Zoomobile program offers children a unique and fun experience to learn about animals around the globe and expand their knowledge about the natural world.
To schedule a Zoomobile presentation or to learn more about the program. call (952) 431-9228.
Visit the Minnesota Zoo website at www.mnzoo.org for more information about Zoomobile’s goals.