Spring Garden pupils see zoo's tigers

Neighbors

May 26, 1999|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WILD ANIMALS lurk through the fourth-grade language arts curriculum of teacher Erica Guenther at Spring Garden Elementary in Hampstead.

Intrigued by what they learn about protecting endangered animal species, the pupils typically chooses to fund venues of animal research and conservation. This year, they decided to aid the Siberian tiger and Florida manatee.

They sold $220 worth of homemade cupcakes and brownies during a school function. The highlight to the year occurred recently when about 20 pupils visited Dr. Ben Beck, associate director of the National Zoo in Washington, to present a check for $100.

John Seidensticker, curator of the big cats, arranged a tour for the classroom families, designed to bring the children face to face with the Siberian tiger.

It's estimated that fewer than 480 wild tigers remain. To protect and learn about them, the National Zoo houses three of the last tigers to be born in the wild.

Because tigers live solitary except for mating, the zoo has developed a process to socialize them so they won't kill each other while in captivity, Guenther said.

Zookeepers Brad Blaine and Wayne Milner provided two-hour tours, focusing on intriguing facts about the tiger. The children compared their weight with tiger prey. In size, a child equals a gazelle, more or less. The children also could compare their size against 5- to 7-foot wooden cutouts of tigers. Even with such an introduction, getting close to real tigers held a few surprises.

"Their teeth are so long," said Emma Lang. "We had to stay six feet away. Most of the time, the tigers stayed in the shade."

Jessica Franco had seen the tigers several times because her grandfather Michael Franco is employed by the company that constructed the newer, open-air animal enclosures, including the one for tigers.

"They don't look ferocious, they look cute," Jessica said.

"The tiger named Soya Bean was roaring all the time," said Erica Danton. Soya was being held separately from the mating tigers.

"They were big," said Valerie Yurche. "Even the two male lion cubs were big. They were born at the zoo. I liked how they stayed close to the mother."

Tigers do not form family groups.

The pupils adopted manatees this year. A photographic display in their classroom shows their aquatic manatee friends Howie, Nick, Dana, Deep Dent, Amanda and Ariel.

After sending $100 to help manatees, Guenther purchased classroom items so pupils could continue learning about tigers and manatees.

"We integrate this throughout the year, with Internet trips to tigers and manatees on the Web, writing postcards and letters to the Save the Manatee Foundation, and now reading a novel, `Totally Trusting,' about a group of teen-agers hoping to save manatees," Guenther said. "The students made a decision to choose these animals, and that link has them always motivated."

Pool to open

Hampstead Pool will open Memorial Day weekend. Hours are noon to 7: 30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Heather Semies (Heather King before her marriage in September) has returned as pool manager to present swim lessons and special events.

The pool is cleaned and filled, ready for opening day. It is on Sugar Maple Street, off Sycamore, near the Kimberly Village development.

Memberships for daily unlimited use are $90 for individuals and $180 for families. Memberships for weekends only are $50 for individuals and $100 for families. Identification cards are issued for each family member. Daily rates are available.

The pool offers a double water slide, big toy playground and wading pool in a fenced enclosure with a snack bar. Showers are available.

Information: Tammy Palmer at Hampstead Town Office, 1034 S. Carroll St., 410-374-2761.

Children's art exhibition

Children who live in Hampstead or attend school in Hampstead are encouraged to submit their best artwork for a July exhibit at Hampstead Town Hall Art Gallery, 1034 S. Carroll St.

Art teachers at Hampstead and Spring Garden elementary schools are selecting artwork from their pupils. Children in private schools or who are home-schooled are encouraged to choose their best flat, two-dimensional artwork for the exhibit.

All artwork must be done entirely by the child without the use of kits or patterns. The artwork should not be framed because pieces will be arranged in groups for the show.

The exhibit will take place July 26 through Sept. 3. A reception will be held for the children and the public.

Information: 410-239-4721 or 410-374-2761.

Pat Brodowski's North neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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