Up close with the animals
by Daniel Freeman
Hannah Pretz is hoping to change the way people think about animals.
Pretz, Brandywine Zoo's School program coordinator, was recently at the local library.
"I hope the kids get a chance to learn a little bit about the animals," said Pretz. "I don't think they are going to get a chance to see an armadillo or a snake and those animals that have those scary stereotypes like snakes, tarantulas, or frogs. I hope the kids realize that they can break those stereotypes and that they (the animals) really aren't that bad and they are actually really important."
This was the first year the Brandywine Zoo visited Maryland's library system. There were 37 children who attended the night animal presentation by the Brandywine Zoo at the Rising Sun Library earlier this summer.
Pretz begins the program with reading a book to the children called "Night Animals" and then teaches the children a few things about each animal before they are introduced.
According to Pretz, the kids were excited when they met the animals while the parents were more intimidated. Those animals were a chinchilla, an armadillo, a python, and a ferret.
"What is really interesting to me is that when I pull out a snake or a tarantula, when I pull out an animal which has the stereotypical scare factor, the kids come closer and the parents run out," said Pretz. "The biggest impact that I take out of this is even if the parents still walk away with this idea of 'eww it's gross', then hopefully they realize it’s not necessarily scary or dangerous."
Pretz has been teaching at the Brandywine Zoo for two and half years.
"I love teaching because it is not about me it's about the kids. It's about what the kids walk out with. The kids are so innocent and you can really help the next generation by teaching," said Pretz.
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