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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on February 19, 2001 at 14:24:58:
DAILY REVIEW (Hayward, California) 09 February 01 Wildlife class uses live animals (Tasha Bartholomew)
San Leandro: Priscilla the opossum, Dusty the barn owl, Newton the newt and No Feet the snake paid some fifth-graders a visit at Garfield Elementary School.
The animals were all part of a presentation Wednesday by Wendy Winsted, a wildlife educator for Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward.
Teacher Garth Flint, whose classroom is known as "The Zoo in Room 22," asked Winsted to speak to his students because they have been learning a lot about conservation and what that means for animals.
The idea behind the name of the classroom comes from the children's book "The Zoo in Room 22" by Flint's good friend and author Judy Sierra.
The book -- an alphabetical collection of poems about animals from A to Z -- has helped Flint's students learn more about animals besides the snakes, fish and fire belly toads that live in their classroom.
"I've been doing this since the beginning of the (school) year, and I think it is important to make learning fun," Flint said. "When you make learning fun, kids are more receptive to it."
Student Tony Bith said if it were not for Flint's animal report assignment, he might not have known that timber wolves hunt in packs.
"I really like the creature feature cards we have in our class too," said student Jessica Thomas, jumping in the conversation. Thomas said the creature feature cards give information on various animals, such as where they live and what they eat.
For many of the students, this was the first time they had ever seen an opossum and barn owl up close and personal.
At one point, the students shrieked with laughter and disgust as Dusty the barn owl pooped on the floor after coming out of his cage.
Once the kids calmed down, Winsted explained to them that all of the animals that come to Sulphur Creek either have injuries or were orphaned. Dusty, for example, had a stubby left wing because he did not get enough protein and calcium when he was a baby.
"The barn owl was the most interesting animal Wendy brought," said student David Kolinsky. "I liked his cool, feathered face and the way he was able to turn his neck (270 degrees)."