Here are three steps that you can take so your kids can have positive animal encounters.
1. Research Options
First, find a location that will let you touch animals. You’ll have to do a little bit of research into the zoos, aquariums, nature centers, and maybe even pet stores that are near you. In my area I can go to the zoo and touch animals. The zoo has a petting zoo, and volunteers will also hold animals such as snakes and other reptiles throughout the zoo that visitors can touch.
There’s a nature center that has terrapins or sea stars and a snake that people can touch, and there’s also a pet store in my area that had bay prairie dogs one day that I was there. I was allowed to touch them, and they were very warm and soft.
Find out what your options are, and then decide if you want to do an informal visit or if you want to purchase a behind-the-scenes pass were you can have a special animal encounter.
2. Be Brave
The second step for you and your kids is to be brave. These animals are put in the encounters because the people taking care of them believe that it is safe to touch them. It might be kind of scary to touch a snake for the first time or to touch another animal that seems a little creepy, but your kids will feel really good about themselves if they conquer a little bit of fear that they have in order to touch the animal.
3. Learn More
The third step is to read signs about the animals and ask questions. Often there will be signs giving more information about where the animal comes from and its habits. Your kids can also ask the person who is handling the animal to give them more information. Encourage your kids to ask specific questions such as “Where does this animal live?” or “What does this animal eat?” or “What time of day does this animal come out, or is it a night creature?” Your kids will walk away with confidence through their interactions with the animals and the animal keepers.
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