Irelyn and Londyn Weaver have gone wild.

The sisters from Roseburg are participating in the Junior Zookeeper program at Wildlife Safari, which teaches children ages 10-17 what it’s like to be a real zookeeper.

They learn all about animals, how to care for them, and how to share their knowledge with the public.

The Junior Zookeeper program was started 7 years ago. It offers opportunities for children to expand their experiences and to explore what it is like to work at Wildlife Safari.

Wildlife Safari’s Director of Education Leila Goulet said, “I wanted to create a program that offered more opportunities for hands-on learning and appreciation of animals.”

The Junior Zookeeper program is a great way to educate kids in responsibility and leadership while interacting with animals. A few activities that children engage in while in the program are animal husbandry, care for petting zoo animals, and doing animal presentations for guests of the village.

Animal husbandry includes activities like caring for, cleaning up after, feeding, and working with animals.

10-year-old Londyn said, “The program allows me to learn about animals and take care of them. I also get to talk with the visitors and show and share about the animals.”

The kids also get to help maintain the Children’s Zoo. This involves making sure that the animals and their pens are clean and taken care of.

Irelyn, 12, said picking up horse poop was her least favorite part. Although it’s not the most fun, kids learn that taking care of animals takes responsibility and work.

Juniors are also trained to handle animals and how to share animal facts and with people visiting.

“I want to get better at public speaking,” Irelyn said. She is hoping this part of being a Junior Zookeeper will help her accomplish this goal.

Getting to hold the animals was the girls’ favorite part of the program.

Londyn said she really enjoyed holding her first rat. “I learned that I’m not a fan of its tail, but I really love the soft furry body,” she said.

The girls can certainly agree that they are lucky to have a chance to get out of the house and have some fun.

“I look forward to holding more animals each year,” Londyn said. “Every year you are in the program, Junior Zookeepers get to handle and hold more and more animals.”

More information: wildlifesafari.net/jrzookeeper/.

Skylar Knox will be a seventh grade student at Fremont Middle School in the fall. Her writing and photography work can be found at skylarknox.com.

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