Education Outreach with the Lehigh Valley Zoo

In the upcoming weeks, many LVCC school-age and preschool children will entertain special guests from the Lehigh Valley Zoo. The Zoo brings a collection of animals from their Education Outreach program.
Tulani the African Penguin

A favorite guest is Tulani the African Penguin. As it's name implies, African Penguins come from the coast of Africa. Penguins are monogomous and mate for life. Their diet consists of  fish, crustaceans, and squid. Tulani's distinctive black and white coloring is a vital form of camouflage - white for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators looking down into the water. The children participate in an experiment that simulates an oil spill. They dip a swan feather in cooking oil dyed black and then wash the feathers with Dawn dish detergent. Taking two minutes to fully clean a feather, the children are able to calculate that it would take over 200 minutes to clean one penguin caught in an oil spill.

Otis the Argentine Tegu, a large stocky lizard living in the meadows and open forests of South America, is another visitor from the Zoo. Males are larger than females and can grow to a length of 4-½ feet, while females rarely grow larger than 3 feet. They are very intelligent reptiles and fairly calm to handle. The children enjoy feeling it's bumpy reptile skin. Tegus are omnivores that feeding mostly on vegetables, but also insects, mollusks, small mammals, birds, and amphibians. At the Zoo, they eat mice, chicks and vegetables. Although tegus are not currently endangered, they may become so from overhunting for their meat and leather.

Practicing gentle touches with
Bean the Toe Toed Sloth.
The Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula may make an appearance. Living in parts of Bolivia, Argentina Northern Chile, these tarantulas are found burrowing in the ground in the desert and scrubland. An adult, 3-4 years old, can reach approximately 6 inches in its total leg span. Although these tarantulas are venomous and deadly to smaller animals, humans will only get a rash if bitten or from the tiny hairs. For this reason, children are not allowed to touch the tarantula. This type of arachnid will eat any creature smaller than itself (other arachnids, reptiles, insects, or small mammals). In the Zoo, their diet consists of crickets.

The youngest addition to the traveling program is Bean the Two Toed Sloth. He is named because his rainforest habitat in Central and South America is disappearing. The rainforests are being torn down, while coffee bean and chocolate fields are planted in it's place. Bean has only two toes on his forefeet, although, like other types of sloths, he has three toes on the hindfeet. Once 18-month-old baby Bean is full grown around 3 years, he will be 23-28 inches long, weigh 9-18 pounds, and grow very long hair.  Sloths are so slow that algae grows on their hair, giving them a greenish tint. In the rainforest, this helps camouflage them from predators. Spending most of their life hanging from trees, sloths are nocturnal animals that only descend to the ground to go to the bathroom. Sloths eat leaves, shoots, fruits, nuts, berries, bark, and even some small rodents. Food can take up to a month to digest due to their slow metabolism. The children especially enjoy petting Bean with gentle touches to feel the softness of his fur.

By the end of the summer, LVCC at Stones Crossing, LVCC on Union Boulevard, LVCC's Campus Center, and LVCC's Judith Chase Early Learning Center will all have participated in the Lehigh Valley Zoo's Education Outreach program.

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