Leesburg, VA (Dec. 3, 2015) – Fourth-graders at Leesburg Elementary made some scaly, feathery and furry new friends on Tuesday, November 10th, when they were visited by animals in the care of the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center.
Animal Rehabilitator Jennifer Burghoffer introduced the students to two turtles, a brown bat, an opossum, a corn snake and a barred owl. Most of the animals have been injured in some way and are unable to be released into the wild as a result of those injuries.
The visit from the animals was an introduction to the fourth grade’s One to the World project. Students will be creating brochures, pamphlets and posters that explain how to be kind to animals. These products may be displayed in a new facility under construction by the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center. Burghoffer and teacher Kristi Titus described the goals of the lesson as empowering students to prevent animal injuries and raising the awareness of the center so that animals receive the rehabilitation they need. Titus volunteers at the center on a weekly basis. The center has cared for more than 1,800 animals.
As the animals were removed from their cages one-by-one, students were reminded to “oooooh” and “aaaaah” quietly so as not to frighten their guests.
Burghoffer first introduced the students to Kettle, a corn snake. Burghoffer explained how the snake’s mouth can expand to accommodate food that is three times the size of its head. She also discussed the snake’s anatomy in terms of its spine and ribs.
Next on the guest list was an opossum named Miss Patsy. Burghoffer discussed the diet of this marsupial, as Miss Patsy suffers from a metabolic bone disorder and is unable to climb. Burghoffer noted that opossums are omnivores who eat things both dead and alive but who probably don’t need to eat things found in the trash, like Cheetos.
Two box turtles made an appearance. Shelly had a healthy diet, but had been hit by a car, causing the loss of her left rear foot. Quasimodo, on the other hand, had been adopted by a family and given an improper diet. As a result, Quasimodo’s shell did not develop in the same way that Shelly’s did.
Students learned about echolocation as a brown bat named Anastasia visited with the students. Anastasia damaged the webbing on a wing and is now unable to fly.
Four-year-old barred owl Seymore was up next. He flew into a barbed wire fence and sustained a wing injury that made him unable to fly.
The animals put a face – albeit not a human one – to the humane message the students hope to convey.