Zoo’s preschoolers become youngest animal experts

Education supervisor Brittany Serna guest blogs on ZooHoo!

Preschool children build a wood and coconut mobile device for giraffe enrichment.

Brittany Serna helps preschool children build a wood and coconut mobile device for giraffe enrichment.

Every child wants a WILD adventure. In our Zoo preschool programs, little ones ages 3-5 experience just that – and they become some of the youngest animal experts you’ll ever meet!

They may just tell you how “okapis are like giraffes,” or show you how to waddle like a penguin. With a 106-acre Zoo as their classroom, it’s no wonder they’re so knowledgeable!

_MG_1497-Little boy kisses penguin through glass-CB LJ

A little boy gives a penguin a kiss through the glass.

When they’re not out learning about the Zoo, our preschoolers learn through play. Within each play experience they solve problems, use their creativity, learn how to communicate their needs, and figure out firsthand what it’s like to care for an animal.

In dramatic play, they pretend to be Dallas Zoo keepers, veterinarians, and horticulture staff. The children look at real animal X-rays up-close, create pretend compost, build their own animal exhibits, and more. They especially love pretending to dress up as one of our many animal residents, while others can dress up as the keepers and prepare the animals’  diets.

The way preschoolers care for the animals isn’t all just pretend; they also make enrichment projects each week. This past year’s class created items, such as bamboo tubes stuffed with food for red river hogs, pumpkin carvings for Cat Row, artwork for caracals, mobiles for giraffes, and ice treats for primates. During the spring session, the preschool class visited with the mandrill keepers and watched an ice treat toss. They quickly followed the mandrills in the window and pointed with joy and excitement as the mandrills ate the treats they created for them.


The preschoolers watch on as the giraffes play with the enrichment item they created.

The preschoolers feed the giraffes and meet the zookeepers who care for them.

When the children aren’t able to see the animals enjoying the enrichment treats in person, the keepers pass along photos and share stories with the preschoolers. It makes their experience with the animals personal and establishes a one-of-a-kind connection.

We are gearing up for the 2015-2016 Preschool Safari year, and can’t wait to welcome the next group of young animal lovers as we explore and experience the Dallas Zoo in a unique way. For more information and to register, please CLICK HERE.

Categories: Education | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Zoo’s preschoolers become youngest animal experts

  1. Thankyou for responding to my posting in regards to the loss of little Kipenze. She brought so much joy to millions of people all over the world, and please know all the keepers at the zoo are in my prayers. I know this little giraffe is in heaven and God has held her spirit in his hands and made Kipenze whole and beautiful again. She is running and playing in heaven and she has that playful and adorable look on her face once more. Let us all find comfort in that fact. A think a great way to pay tribute to her is to build a statue of her in front of the giraffe exhibit with a plaque saying she has gone to the Glory of God, but she will always be remembered for her Beauty, grace and joy that she brought to all the staff , visitors, and other giraffes here at the Dallas zoo. Sell t- shirts with her photo and name in the gift shop. Let that money be used for giraffe conservation. Sh
    e on in our hearts and the Dallas Zoo forever.

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