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Animals And Education

zoo staff talking about owlThe Red River Zoo is a community staple in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Long heralded for its unique collection of cold weather animals, the zoo is much more than just an entertainment attraction. Behind the exhibits is the longstanding initiative to promote public education, especially of the sciences.

“Education programs are important to the zoo and its mission because they help us reach our goal of connecting our community to the natural world,” says Bryan Vasquez, director of conservation and education at Red River Zoo.

In fact, there is something going on at the zoo year-round. Camps are available during the spring and summer, but fall and winter offer unique learning opportunities, too. From celebrating scientists to exploring the ways animals change to prepare for winter, the learning doesn’t stop when the snow flies.

zoo staff talking about parrotAccording to Vasquez, the Parent’s Night Out sessions for children ages four to 12 are currently one of the most popular offerings. These sessions are available on select Fridays throughout the fall and winter from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

“Parents can drop their kids off at the zoo and have a night to themselves,” says Vasquez. “The children will spend their time participating in activities themed around a topic.” Activities include crafts, exploring the zoo, meeting animals, and watching movies.

Additional offerings include Zoocation sessions for children in grades one through five, which last from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Pint Size Explorers classes, which are 90-minute sessions for children ages four to six. Visit redriverzoo.org for a current list of available sessions and topics.

In addition to the many in-house attractions, the Red River Zoo’s ZooMobile takes the animals to the people! For schools, daycares, senior centers, and other community groups, the ZooMobile can bring a small number of animals or animal artifacts out to a variety of audiences to teach about a number of topics.

zoo visitors petting animalsCollaboration with local schools is an ongoing focus for the zoo. In the last two years, zoo staff have coordinated with the West Fargo School District to visit each first-grade classroom, and a similar effort is underway with Fargo schools. Additionally, Vasquez says that as part of the coursework in AP biology at Davies High School, students “observe a specific animal’s behavior and design an enrichment item based off of their data.”

Visit redriverzoo.org to learn more about all that the zoo has to offer.

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