Thursday night, the University of Connecticut played host to a variety of exciting critters and creatures in support of National Work & Family Month. Representatives from the Education Department of Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo, Jim Knox and Jen Farrell, held a Zoom meeting hosted by UConn Human Resources in which they introduced some of the zoo’s animal ambassadors to the UConn community.
The animals shown off at the event included a gopher tortoise named Darwin, a monk parakeet named Boomer, an African grey parrot named Zari and a boa constrictor named Gloria. Knox and Farrell gave a brief presentation about each of these animals.
“You may notice that her back foot is flatter than her front feet,” Farrell said while introducing the audience to Darwin. “Those front arms are really great for propelling but these back legs are really great for pushing off, so we call these elephantine feet. They look a lot like an elephant’s feet, very flat on the bottom.”
The two presenters also spoke about some of the conservation work in which the Beardsley Zoo is involved.
“We have birds here in a really cool program called the SSP, the Species Survival Plan,” Knox said. “What we do in the SSP is we actually raise them here at the zoo or care for them for a number of years and then we work with our Fish and Wildlife Service here in the U.S. and other wildlife agencies in South America to release those birds into the Andes Mountains so they can fly free … When you guys come into the zoo, you make a difference. You support that work, and we thank you for that.”
At the end of the talk, the zoo’s representatives answered questions about the animals in addition to general questions about the zoo’s operation.
“It’s very important to educate about the wild and about other animals because the more we know about our environment the more we have control over changing that environment for the better and for future generations,” Farrell said.
Farrell then spoke about the importance of setting small goals in order to instill positive change in the ecosystem. She gave examples of how to achieve these goals, such as starting a pollinator garden or helping to clean up local lakes and rivers.
“We love to tell people all about the diversity of animals in our environment,” Farrell stated. “We have people ask us all the time, ‘How do you get tigers back into the wild?’ ‘How do you get endangered species back into the wild?’ and in order to effectively instill change the public needs to start small.” They left the audience with much to consider about how they can work to improve the environment around them.