By Briana Magistro
SC Staff Writer
On Sunday, October 5, the ESU Biology Club ventured to Harpursville, NY, to visit the Animal Adventure Park. This zoo boasts an exclusive interactive experience, which entertains folks of all ages.
Nestled in the countryside just 15 minutes north of Binghamton, Animal Adventure Park was surrounded in autumn foliage.
Amanda Layden, freshman biology major and resident of Long Island, was very impressed with the views.
“The area was gorgeous,” she said.
Upon arrival, students were greeted by a zookeeper. He shook hands with some students and let them know about the events of the day.
Admission was $7. Just $3 more got students a souvenir “feed the beast” cup overflowing with animal feed for critters throughout the park.
“It was nicely priced,” commented one of the Biology Club members.
After admission, the group of 10 students moved outside to the zoo area. Right away, the group was greeted by a baby camel that could be bottle-fed for a small fee.
Near the baby camel, many penned exhibits featured various farm animals, including silkie chickens, a calf, and potbellied piglets.
Tabby Pellegrino, a freshman marine science major, was really in love with the piglets.
She said, “I wanted to steal one of those piglets. They’re so cute.”
Along with the usual barnyard animals were llamas, alpacas, deer, and goats, whose enclosures were penned at low heights so that visitors could easily hand-feed and pet the animals.
Just about every exhibit held an interactive experience!
Layden commented, “It was really different from a regular zoo. You don’t just look at the animals.”
Animal Adventure Park also has many exotic animals, such as red kangaroos and ring-tailed lemurs.
A 40-week-old cougar kitten was on display. From the outside of the exhibit, visitors interacted with Lulu, the cougar, prodding her to play. She was very attentive and loved showing off her feline skills, jumping high to reach toys hanging from the top of her cage.
Later on, the group got to hear interactive presentations from the keepers, called Keeper Talks. The zookeepers directly interacted with the animals and taught guests about them.
Biology and chemistry major and sophomore Lian Mlodzienski commented on the Keeper Talks. She said, “They weren’t dumbed down. They were still engaging for us, and they made sense for the younger guests to understand.”
One Keeper Talk occurred in the new Arctic Wolf habitat. The zookeeper went into the exhibit to play with the wolves, Odin and Luna, and show guests interesting characteristics and behaviors of wolves up close.
Another Keeper Talk the group attended occurred in the outdoor Sulcata Tortoise enclosure. The keeper brought out Monty the Tegu lizard, whom he let any courageous guests touch. He even let one young guest get a few curious licks from Monty.
Finally, the keeper modeled a rose-haired tarantula. A few younger guests were able to let it crawl across their hands after everyone was given an opportunity to see it up close.
We were also able to spot a lone prairie dog in the yak exhibit, whose permanent home was being rebuilt due to a recent flood.
Toward the end of the trip, we decided to take a picture with the adult Dromedary camel. This experience was one to remember for the whole group! The camel was nearly eight feet tall and appeared to be very hungry.
CJ Lovas, freshman biology major, got the experience of a lifetime: “At first, I walked up to the camel and could not believe that he was a lot bigger than I had expected. Then, it saw my food cup. It wouldn’t let me leave until I emptied my entire cup.”
Overall, the group really enjoyed their stay at the Animal Adventure Park. The interactive and free-roam atmosphere was definitely something new and enjoyable.
Most guests at the park were younger kids with their parents, but any age would be able to enjoy this experience.
With all of the Keeper Talks and hands-on learning, guests could really become enriched by this zoo.
I definitely would like to visit again, preferably on a warmer day, perhaps when Ollie the giraffe arrives in the spring.
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