Friday Headlines

the weekly newsletter from Dr Ruth Weeks, Headmistress

Year 8 get close to nature

09 December 2016

On Tuesday, Year 8 faced their fears and were rewarded with furry and fluffy cuddles when the Animal Man spent the day in school. The Animal Man was actually Laura, a lovely lady who brought some of her rainforest friends into School with her. Laura told us all about threats to the rainforest, including deforestation and climate change, and how these changes were affecting animals within the ecosystem.

Scarily, if these changes continue there will be more and more Mini-Beasts such as the tarantula. However, we learnt that these aren’t as terrifying as we first thought when Laura took Little Miss Fluffy out of her cage and we were all given the chance to hold a live tarantula. Mrs Hughes and Miss Massey were both very impressed with how brave all of Year 8 were and were on hand with tissues to mop up come tears of relief!

Having braved the tarantula, next came Jambo and Dave, corn snakes. After stroking the snakes with the back of their hands, many of the girls went on to hold them around their neck; not a task for the faint-hearted! There were a couple of close encounters with the snakes sticking their tongues out but Laura explained that this was not threatening behaviour; snakes ‘taste the air’ as they cannot smell or hear.

Geckos and a chameleon came next, with amazing adaptations to the competitive environment; we were able to see the chameleon change colour from bright green to black in mere seconds. Also, we were lucky enough to see a crested gecko, which was previously thought to be extinct. As they live high up in the trees they are very hard to spot but wildfires have drawn them closer to human habitation and allowed us to rediscover them. The crested gecko has specially adapted eyes to suit living high up and looking towards the sun; we even saw it clean its eyes with its tongue!

Once the geckos and chameleon were safely away, out hopped a tree frog; it certainly made us jump! As the frog was passed around it released water in order to keep its skin hydrated but this quickly dried.

Nearing the end of our session, Laura explained how deforestation is also happening in the UK and the impact it is having on our wildlife; did you know hedgehogs are endangered?  We were introduced to hedgehog Jean who was recently born at the Animal Man Park and were surprised by how curious and friendly she was, letting us stroke her spikes! We will be very careful to look out for hedgehogs in the day and to get them help, feeding them cat food and water but neither fish nor milk.

One reason animals may become endangered is if they cannot adapt and evolve quickly to a changing environment. Tawny owls have changed colour from white to brown due to less snow cover and Laura introduced us to a baby owl whilst explaining this. We had to stay silent so as not to spook her and were all able to stroke her soft feathers.

Finally, Ester the kinkajou woke up for cuddles and playtime. We all got to cuddle her before we left, and she tried to snuggle in and go to sleep on some of us! We don’t think the Geography teachers succeeded in persuading Laura to leave her in school but they tried their hardest!

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