Zoo News: All of that yellow can’t be dandelions

This is the time of year when things begin to turn green, and we start seeing more yellow popping up at the zoo. Fortunately, the yellow is not in the form of dandelions, but school buses from across the region. Students of all ages pour into the zoo each spring as the weather warms up and the school year draws near its end. While here, students may enjoy formal education programs in the classrooms or teachers and chaperones may choose to just venture across the zoo’s campus out on their own, to guide the students’ experience based on their own lesson plans. It is truly an amazing time at the zoo to see so much activity as we move from the less hectic pace of winter and prepare for the summer months ahead.

Along with the school groups visiting before the end of the school year, the staff continues to travel to schools that can’t make the trip, providing a variety of programs for classrooms or assemblies. There are daycares open year-round that utilize the zoo for educational programming, along with senior centers, assisted living facilities and more that may not be able to travel to the zoo itself.

But the zoo’s educational offerings don’t end with the school year. Once school is out, the zoo will be kicking off Zoo Camp 2022, beginning June 6. There are a series of summer camps for various age groups throughout the summer. Throughout this time, the zoo will continue to provide programming for those other facilities both on and off site. While this may make for long days squeezing all of this in, why not throw in a few nights with a couple of Family Snore -N – Roar overnights to really push the envelope. The first Family Snore – N – Roar is scheduled for June 17 with a second on June 23. There are weekly Zoo Tots programs for parents and toddlers, along with other special activities that arise such as birthday party rentals requesting animal programs.

So, while summer may be a respite for some educators, summer at the zoo for the staff becomes more demanding, but also more invigorating as they get to share their passion for animals and enthusiasm for conservation with so many more people, young and old alike. To manage the ever-growing demand for summer programming, the education staff is aided by a seasonal summer camp educator, regular zoo staff and a small army of Zoo Teen volunteers. Because there are several activities going on simultaneously, the zoo’s lone education coordinator relies heavily on this additional support to ensure camps, classes, programs, etc., are staying on track and the groups are receiving what they expected and are having a great experience.

Thanks goes to the hard work of the Park District’s Horticulture Department that ensures the yellow we see each spring is not from dandelions but are the lines of yellow school buses that trust the zoo’s education efforts and view it as a safe learning experience for their students. To learn more about the Roosevelt Park Zoo’s educational offerings you can go to https://rpzoo.com/education/. Remember to make sure you get the most out of every day and that every visit to the zoo offers an opportunity to learn a little more about the importance of the world we live in.


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