Watch now: Decatur’s Scovill Zoo isn’t just for animals | Recreation

Watch now: Decatur's Scovill Zoo isn't just for animals |  Recreation

Campers check out and feed the guinea pigs on Monday during Zoo Crew camp at Scovill Zoo in Decatur. This camp, one of several being held for different age groups, teaches campers ages 11 to 13 years old about what certain animals eat and their environments.


DECATUR — Zoo camper A’lyanna Rouser, 12, began her week learning, feeding and taking care of animals.

“I love animals and I want to be a vet when I grow up,” she said. “I especially like big animals.”

A’lyanna was one of several campers taking part in one of the Scovill Zoo camps scheduled throughout the summer.

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A’lyanna Rouser, 12, aspiring to be a veterinarian. Taking part in the summer camp at Scovill Zoo gives her an opportunity to work and learn about many different animals.


Although she has a pet at home, A’lyanna knows she has to go to the zoo to spend time with the special animals she’s not allowed to take home.

“The camels, spider monkeys, peacocks, there’s no way,” she said.

According to Ken Frye, Scovill Zoo director, the camps provide opportunities to connect with nature. “They’re learning about animal care, they’re learning about species survival, they’re learning about their environment,” he said. “It’s kind of connecting them to what’s outside their window.”

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A’lyanna Rouser, center, listens to Education and Volunteer Coordinator Lizzie Van Ert as she explains what certain animals eat.


The zoo camps are categorized by age, including a 90-minute class for ages 5 and 6 years old. The three-hour zoo camps are for the older children, 7- and 8-year-olds and 9- and 10-year-olds. “The 11- to 13-year-olds get a whole day camp,” Frye said. “All the camps just last one week long.”

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The camp registrations were quickly filled shortly after the summer activities were announced in March. “It didn’t take long for the camps to fill up,” Frye said. “But we can put you on a waiting list.”

The camps are beneficial for the children’s futures, Frye said. “For some it creates that life long learning of wanting to be around animals,” he said. “Sometimes they learn it’s not for them, and that’s OK too.”

Past campers have returned for a job. “Some of them have come back and worked in the petting zoo,” Frye said.

On Monday, Camp instructor Lizzie Van Ert began the week teaching the campers with the Zoo Crew camp about adaptation. Guinea pigs were one of the groups of animals the campers took care of, which includes of crate training, feeding them dandelions and other caregiving.

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A guinea pigs eats clover on Monday during Zoo Crew camp.


“Each week we’ll go through a different group of animals, and today’s focus is mammals,” Van Ert said. “This is something more involved, more hands-on with the animals.”

Maia Cook, 11, began her second week of zoo camp on Monday. “This week is a little different,” she said. “And I like hanging out with animals.”

Maia and the Zoo Crew of 11- to 13-year-olds spent the day feeding and cleaning, as well as taking part in games and crafts. “Plus, they’ll be running around the zoo and doing the keeper tasks and animal activities,” Van Ert said.

Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR


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