Hanging with the chimpanzees, and poolside with penguins
- When the Cincinnati Zoo’s Fiona was born two-months premature in January 2017, she required special formula and even a hippo IV to keep her alive, wrote The Seattle Times.
- Her progress, however, has been turned into multiple books, some aimed at young readers, along with magazine stories and souvenirs, all meant to illustrate her young life and introduce her to children.
- Some conservationists worry that the way Fiona’s story is told doesn’t convey the serious problems facing hippos in the wild. Others, however, believe the attention is positive as schools can tap into the material to help teach students about animals and other subjects.
Typically, children are introduced to wild animals through books and videos. A live close-up view is usually afforded to specially trained photographers and filmmakers, who then bring footage back to run in magazines, books and documentaries.
In recent years, however, web cams have made it possible to gain live access to animals sometimes in the wild, and sometimes in conservation spaces like zoos. From the Giant Panda Cam at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo to the Penguin Cam at the San Diego Zoo, schools can tap these feeds to show students how animals behave and act with each other. For districts with limited budgets for field trips, this can be an invaluable tool.
Administrators could consider asking local zoos to add a web cam to help students study not just a specific animal, but also use feeds as a launching point for geography, biology and even math classes. In lieu of a camera, zoos can also potentially upload data about an animal’s daily routine, for example, to shared documents and drives, allowing students to gain inside access to an animal’s life.