MARTINSBURG–Children can meet, pet and interact one on one with some exotic animals this week without any summertime trips to the zoo.
The Martinsburg Berkeley County Parks and Recreation will host an Animal Adventure Camp, programmed by Critters and Conservation.
“Critters and Conservation is not a traditional petting zoo. Though we do have some more “traditional” animals, such as bunnies, chickens, a cat and dog, and guinea pigs, most of our critters are exotic animals. We are more of an educational, interactive traveling (very small) zoo. In addition to camps, we also offer classes, perform animal shows, and do what we call ‘meet and greets’ with the critters,”said Melissa Kowalski, the proprietor of Critters and Conservation.
The Animal Adventure Camp will offer unique educational opportunities to local children.
“There will be two to four live animals each day for the children to learn about, observe and pet, hold, and/or feed. We have animal related coloring and crafts. Sometimes we also have time for educational games, such as reptile or bird bingo,”said Kowalski.
Proper education regarding the treatment of the exotic animals is an important aspect of the Animal Adventure Camp and all camps at Critters and Conservation.
“We are all about education, audience comfort, respect for animals and people, conservation, adoption, and we are not a ‘dog and pony’ show trying to wow crowds (though they are wowed quite a bit). We aren’t interested in scaring audiences. We are interesting in breaking down walls of fear and misunderstanding about the amazing creatures with whom we share the planet,”said Kowalski.
Local children and families have a unique chance to learn about these wild animals over the summer.
“It is an opportunity for parents to expose their children to various kinds of animals and have them learn proper animal handling while dispelling myths about some of these animals in the wild,” Kowalski said.
The camp has 40 species from six continents and parents can observe and take pictures, Kowalski said.
Another Animal Adventure Camp will be held through the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. beginning Monday, July 30 through Friday, Aug. 3, at Blue Ridge Primary School. Registration is $150 per child. For more information, parents can call Jefferson County Parks and Recreation at 304-728-3207 or visit crittersandconservation.com.