By Clara Glendale | nature-in-education reporter
Askew Rankin, chief handler at Michiana Regional Animal Sanctuary and Petting Zoo, gave a demonstration Friday for students and educational staff at Bass Lake Elementary.
Among Rankin’s bevy of creatures were a boa constrictor, a tortoise, 117, and the ever-popular bat-in-a-bedsheet.
Students were allowed to touch or pet a few of the animals, then squeal with delight and/or revulsion.
Rankin also distributed a handout featuring photographs of circus elephants indulging the joy of alternating current, and showed students how to properly dissect a frog.
Following the show, Rankin, PhD-zoology, spoke briefly about the program from his minivan dressing room. He explained the educational significance of exposing students to the wonders of wildlife in the context of a safe, controlled interior environment.
“The more we can teach kids to learn about the animal kingdom, the more we can teach them to learn about learning,” Rankin said.
Following the program, several students provided comment. Shauna (Last Name Withheld), a fourth-grader at BLE, gave a mixed review.
“Fun! He’s funny,” she said. “I got sad when the ocelot bit that first-grade boy.”
Opening act was the school’s truancy officer and his Pomeranian K-9.