Poteau GEAR UP Students Participate in Virtual Education Program with the Tulsa Zoo

Two hundred three ninth and 10th grade Poteau GEAR UP students recently participated in Tulsa Zoo’s virtual Zoo 2 U program with Education Specialists Tricia Hindley and Claire Stephenson as well as Volunteer Manager Lisa Cobb. Students were given an in-depth look at the process behind exhibit design in a zoo setting. Hindley and Stephenson explained the factors that play a role in exhibit design so that Tulsa Zoo can meet the needs of three groups: the animals, zookeepers, and the public. A critical factor among all three is safety. Animals need to have a safe, real-life replicating environment while zookeepers and the public require a safe way to observe and interact with them. Students learned about different critical needs that must be met when caring for so many different species of animals from hot versus cold climates to wet versus dry climates and everything in between. Tulsa Zoo had several of its Animal Ambassadors present for the virtual program, such as feathered friends Oscar the macaw, Peepers the spectacled owl, and Gracie the Western screech owl. A few scaly Ambassadors made an appearance as well, including a corn snake, ball python, and a hognose snake name Onyx. Students then conducted an Exhibit Challenge where they had to draw a fully-functioning exhibit for an African Lion meeting all the requirements presented by Tulsa Zoo Education Specialists.   The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant in 2017, and will serve more than 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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