A High School Field Trip
Kerrie Chesher
Emet Wade
Ivy Tech State College
August 26, 2004
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When I was in high school, I was a four-year member of the Biology
Club. Every year we would take a trip to the Indianapolis Zoo at the end
of the year as a gift to ourselves for all we did for the township during
the school year. It did not seem that great until my senior year when the
club found out there was more to the zoo than looking at animals. My class
and I were able to go to the back scenes to fee and take care of the
animals as the people who work at the zoo do. We learned what kind of food
they deed the animals, from fish to zucchinis, and house the animals
interact with the public.

One of the animals we fed was the sharks. The sharks are fed twice a
day, and given between ten to twenty fish in one feeding. The fish the
sharks eat have special vitamins in them because the sharks live in
captivity and no in the wild. When we fed the sharks, we had to walk over
the tank on the two foot wide platform, and sit over the edge with our feet
hanging over the water. At first I thought that the sharks would eat my
feet and not the fish, but I was told that for the size of the zoo owned it
would be hard for the sharks to reach my feet. Each classmate had a shark
he or she would have to feed, and had to keep count of how many fish were
fed to the shark. This task became difficult because it was hard to just
feed one shark. So in the long run it was difficult to say exactly how
many fish we fed to our shark. The biologist said it was all right because
they have the same problems too when they feed the sharks.

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We also helped out in two of the dolphin shows at the zoo. My class
was lucky. We learned some tricks and calls for the dolphins. When we
would tell the dolphin to do something, we would have to use hand signals
and whistles to communicate. We also learned what dolphins eat and how
much. We also were able to touch the dolphins. We
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had to wash our hands before we were able to touch the dolphins because
there is oil on our hands that can be harmful to them. The dolphins in the
zoo take a special pill embedded in the fish they eat to help them not to
get sick from the oil on our skin. The dolphins at the zoo are touched
often because of the training and the research that the zoo's marine
biologist do each day to make sure that the dolphins are healthy. The
biologist also does this so we as people can better understand dolphins and
how they live. This understanding will help people become more aware of
their animal surroundings and not hurt the living creatures around them.

Another activity my class did at the zoo was to give the elephants a
bath. This proved to be the most difficult, but fun task of all. First,
we had to hose down the elephants, but the elephants hosed us down instead.

Then we had to scrub them down with soap and water. It was similar to
washing a really big dog that likes to play in the waster, and that can
squirt water back. Out class found out when we would scrub behind one of
the elephant's ears it would shake its head. At the end of this whole
ordeal I think the elephants did more of giving us a bath than we did
giving them one.

After we dried off from giving the elephants a bath, we helped out at
the bird show. Our role at the bird show was to have the birds fly back
and forth, and do some trick, such as nodding its heads, and lifting their
foot. I was able to get one the birds to spread its wings with a wing
spread of four and a haft feet. The bird weighed around 35 pounds, which
was really heavy on my arm. We would feed the birds nuts when they would
do something, and also to get them to fly to us. That was a very awesome,
fun experience that took a lot of strength.

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We then got to feed the koalas. We watched the zoo workers make the
food that consisted of berries, grapes, bananas, and other things. Then we
fed this to the koalas. The food also had vitamins. They sleep most of
the day and are awake most of the night. They look as if they would feel
really soft, but there hair feels like lots of stiff strings together. The
koalas are very friendly, and love to play. I was surprised to see how
playful they are. One of the boys in my class was wearing a hat and the
koala would keep taking it off of him and hiding it in the tree. The class
found that amusing.

One of the last activities we got to do at the zoo was to talk to the
younger children that were at the zoo that day. We talked to the children
about safety with animals, keeping their environment clean for the animals,
and being kind to the animals because they are our friends. We also did a
few skits that we had written for the children. The skits taught them ways
to keep the environment clean and safe for the animals around them, have
fun without making a mess, and the wonderful things they can do with
animals. The children seem to really enjoy the skits, and so did we
performing them. I always have loved putting on skits for children because
it is like a big game and it helps them to learn at the same time.

The trip was like no other. I learned there were many things I can
do at the zoo instead of just looking at the animals. My hands-on
experience was a great learning experience for me. I learned much more in
that rip than any other trip to the zoo. I feel that the zoo should offer
this to small groups of middle and high school students that would come to
visit. They just may enjoy it much more than just looking at the animals.

I just hope that I will be able to do it again someday.