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Franklin Park Zoo gives kids a chance to ‘Be a Veterinarian’

Kassmin Williams | 12/19/2013, 6 a.m.
In an effort to create a unique zoo experience for children, Franklin Park Zoo is inviting children of all ages ...
Franklin Park Zoo is opening its gates to children for its “Be A Veterinarian” program every Saturday in January. The program teaches kids about taking care of animals and allows them to practice treatment on stuffed animals they bring to the zoo. Photo courtesy of Zoo New England

In an effort to create a unique zoo experience for children, Franklin Park Zoo is inviting children of all ages to its “Be a Veterinarian” event being held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday in January in the zoo’s tropical forest building.

“We thought it would be a really fun interactive activity for kids, as well as an education opportunity to teach kids about the importance of good veterinary care and how our vets and zookeepers care for all of the animals at the zoo,” said Brooke Wardrop, Zoo New England director of marketing and communications.

The zoo asks the children to bring in their favorite stuffed animal. The children will dress in white lab coats, receive small medical kits and learn about the importance of veterinary care while completing a check-up on their stuffed animal.

At the end of the check-up, the zoo will give the children a certificate of good health for their stuffed animals and will hold a story time where the children will learn about animal health.

The story time will cover a different topic each week, Brooke said.

Topics include behavior, diet, activity and procedures like preventative and acute care. Children will also learn about the care involved with a newly born or hatched animal.

The tropical forest building where the activities will take place also offers a unique experience, according to Wardrop.

“It really is like visiting the tropics without leaving Boston,” Wardrop said. “The temperature is 72 degrees, It’s balmy. There’s a very, lush greenery. There’s a waterfall.”

Animals in the tropical forest include western lowland gorillas, ring tailed lemurs, a pygmy hippopotamus and a giant anteater.

Children will also get the opportunity to meet with one of the zoo’s veterinarians and some of the zoo’s education staff who will go over various biology facts, including some of the zoo animal’s diets.

The children will also get the opportunity to complete an activity with the education staff where they make observations about various zoo animals.

Wardrop called the event a “wonderful” way to educate children about some of the animal care that takes place behind the scenes at the zoo and the importance of veterinary care for their own pets.

“It’s really an opportunity to deepen that zoo experience in a really fun and meaningful way,” Wardrop said. “Hopefully they also learn why this is so important.” There is an admittance fee to attend the zoo. For more information visit their website http://www.zoonewengland.org/tickets