Thursday, February 26, 2009

More mentor voices...

“I've been a part of Zoo-Mates for 3 years now and personally it has been a great experience. I've done plenty of community service work around Cincinnati but Zoo-Mates is one that has definitely made a profound impression on me. Working with the kids not only helps out our community but it makes us, the mentors, feel a high sense of pride and accomplishment. I look forward to working with Zoo-Mates for as long as I'm in college and for the program to expand.”
-- Christina Kanaris, junior English literature major

"This is my first year being part of the Zoo-Mates program and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. The best thing about Zoo-Mate is the bond that I have developed with my mentee, he has become like a little brother to me. Being a mentor has help me learn more about myself while making a difference in a child’s life. Spending time with all the children exploring the zoo makes me feel like a little kid again. Zoo-Mates has definitely enhance my experience at the University of Cincinnati."
-- Paul Tran, freshman, College of Allied Health Sciences

The Zoo After Dark

As part of our Nocturnal Adventure overnight, we got to explore behind the scenes of the Zoo and visit a lot of neat animals! It was so exciting to have the Zoo all to ourselves!

We were amazed by the big and colorful bugs in the Insect House!

Some of the cats in the Cat House look so cuddly!

Making friends...

Can you find the hidden, sleepy sand cats?

After exploring the Nocturnal House and meeting an owl, aardvarks, a bearcat, and many bats, we were invited to go behind the scenes to visit the kitchen where the zookeepers prepare food for the animals.

Here the guide is showing us the mammal blood that the vampire bats eat. We also saw cans of "primate food," mealworms, and "mice on ice." It was so educational!

The Penguins didn't mind the cold February weather!

We started our day with an early morning Zoo hike. Here we are passing the Elephant House.

Quality Time

The best thing about our Nocturnal Adventure overnight at the Zoo was that the mentors and mentees were able to spend quality time together, laughing, getting to know each other, and strengthening their relationships.

We had time to play.

We had time to learn.

We hung out.

We got to tell stories in the dark at bedtime.

We explored the Zoo together.

We took care of each other.

Animal Adaptations

We started our evening at the Zoo by meeting another set of animal ambassadors to learn about adaptations. By now we're old pros and we know exactly how to gently touch the animals, but we're still learning to be comfortable with new and unusual kinds of creatures!

Many of us had never touched a snake before. It was warmer and softer than we expected!

This tiny Brazilian Possum is new to the job of being an ambassador and she was a bit skittish, but so soft and cute!

Her big ears are an adaptation to help her hear really well.

These Hissing Cockroaches from Madagascar were amazing! We had never touched such a big bug! It was too loud in the room to hear them hiss, though.

Not everyone wanted to touch the hissing cockroaches!

We also met a Ringneck Dove who was very calm and beautiful.

We are learning so much during our time at the Zoo!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tile Painting Party

After our Zoo overnight, we were invited to spend Saturday morning creating artwork that will be incorporated into the children's section of the new Nordstrom department store being built in Kenwood Towne Centre. Each Zoo-Mates mentee painted animal designs onto two ceramic tiles that will be placed on the floor of the store. Other kids also came to paint too, and the event rasied over $9000 to support the Zoo.

Getting some tips from the artist.

After we finished the art project, we were invited to a celebration sponsored by Nordstrom. The buffet was full of amazing snacks, but the most exciting part was getting our faces painted!