Saturday, November 10, 2012

Zoo Volunteer Training, Week Two

Hairy-nosed wombat
credit: Jeff Green/Toronto Star
The training was a little more intensive in our second week as we are starting to get some idea of exactly what is going to be expected of us. We focused on Grade Ones and Twos this time around (more the former than the latter, truth be told) and were taken on a short tour by a veteran Volunteer who stopped us frequently en route and explained the methodology she would use if we were actually six or seven years old. The Grade One curriculum explores "Characteristics and Needs of Living Things" with a special emphasis on the five senses. Grade Two learns about "Growth and Change in Animals", including life cycles and classifications. One especially nice thing about the tour yesterday was it took us through the Australasia Pavilion where we had a chance to meet the newest Zoo additions, two young southern hairy-nosed wombats who have come to join Hamlet, the thirty-year-old wonder already living here who has outlived his life expectancy in the wild by a factor of two. It is hoped that the new pair, Millie and Arthur, will breed when they are ready (likely a full year away, still) because that is something that Zoos up until now haven't had a lot of luck with. There are nine of these creature in captivity in North America; the Toronto Zoo now sports three of them. A let me tell you: these two youngsters are some kind of cute. One was braver than the other (we are not sure who was who), venturing past the wallabies into the outdoor enclosure and watching us from the fence there quite closely. I didn't want to stop and take any pictures of my own while I was "in class" and I didn't go back before I went home. Hopefully they will be just as active the next time I am in that pavilion and I'll capture them for posterity!

Look for this sign....
Another thing we learned yesterday was that the new "Tundra Trek Tour" has yet to actually take place, mainly because nobody has shown up to take one yet. This is very likely due to the fact that there seems to be no mention of it anywhere in the Zoo literature (or, really, anywhere online whatsoever), so while it's not surprising it is still rather disappointing, especially for whatever Volunteer is assigned to the tour each day. As far as I know, the tour will take place on every day of the week (not just weekdays) and is free with Zoo admission, so if you or anyone you know is heading for the Zoo soon, please give it a whirl. It takes about an hour and the Volunteer leading the tour will likely make it very entertaining indeed. Simply show up at the bush plane across from the Caribou Cafe (check the picture below for a better idea of what that looks like) and tell the Zoo Volunteer you are there for the Tundra Trek Tour. And, please: pass it along to anyone you think might enjoy it. Until there are some more official notifications, it seems that word-of-mouth will have to do. Thanks! the bush plane, across from the Caribou Cafe (Tundra Trek entrance)

There's not a lot else I can add here to this post. I am trying to be careful not to accidentally "give away" any proprietary information so of necessity I need to be fairly vague in describing the specifics of what we are actually being taught. I can tell you that this course is going to be very interesting indeed and I hope to be an expert by early February. Also, we have been given an assignment: a presentation which we will each have to give in early January. As mine comes together I can guarantee that I will blog about it. We are allowed to make it about any exhibit and tailor it to any grade level.

While you may not be able to deduce the grade level I might choose (for neither have I) I daresay you can work out what exhibit I will most likely be choosing to present. I'll give you a clue: I went once more to watch the feeding time after class. And one of the animals hopped into the keeper's lap, looking for some scritches. I couldn't hear them through the glass and it was a bit more laid back than this video, but it still went a little something like this:


  1. First of all, that penguin video is one of the cutest things I've ever seen!!!

    SEcondly, glad you're enjoying your training at the zoo. Wow, you have a lot to learn! But I bet you'll have a great time volunteering there. And I hope someone shows up for the Tundra Trek soon.

    Love those Hairy Wombats...

    1. Ronna passed that video along to me on Facebook. While I definitely saw it before—a long time ago—I would not have thought to put it in my post had it not been fresh in my mind, so much thanks to her!

      I won't rest until I get someone out to take the Tundra Trek tour. It's my new mission. And yes, there sure will be a lot to learn before we take a group around "solo". I expect the very first tour I give to be nerve-wracking. I will have to be very careful what age group I sign up for!

      Those wombats are beyond cute. I'll be heading back to see them next Friday. :)

  2. You will be great on the first tour you give. You describe it so well in this blog - I am sure this will come across when you do the tour as well. Nice photo of the wombat.

    1. Thanks! I really do hope I can lean on my love of the creatures at the Zoo to get me through the jitters of the first couple of tours. I know there will come a point when I receive a question from some young lad or lass that I cannot really answer. That will be the big day. :)

      I can't take credit for that wombat shot; it appeared in the Star. Perhaps tomorrow I'll get a chance to snap off a couple post-class. As there are new penguin eggs to be glimpsed, however, I'm not sure if I'll get to Australasia. ;)


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