News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

November 5, 2013

Having wild fun: Safari program shows students nature up close

TERRE HAUTE — “Nature isn’t always pretty, sister!”

As students at West Vigo Middle School learned on Tuesday, sometimes the predator becomes the prey. Like when the young alligator — who likes to eat bugs and other aquatic life — gets eaten by an eagle.

Amazon John Cusson gave the nature warning as he presented his Silly Safaris program to coincide with the school’s science curriculum and the school library’s research contest on science topics.

“Nature is not out to get you,” Amazon John told the youths as he shared some of the “gross” details about the habits of vultures, who don’t eat every day, but enjoy an occasional roadside lunch.

A yellow-headed vulture named Mozart — a “decomposer” named after a composer — gobbled a small dead mouse from the unflinching hand of a student named Megan.

The animal man explained to the students that Mozart has a big nose to smell the wafting aroma of dead carcass. The odor is carried upward with the hot air currents — the same currents that give lift for Mozart and his fellow scavengers to float high in the sky. The buzzards will then zero in on a meal.

The buzzard sat placidly on the gloved hand of Amazon John, who explained that bigger buzzards depend upon the keen scent of the small buzzards like Mozart to find a food source. But once Mozart lands and sticks his head inside the animal for a helping of internal organ, the bigger birds usually fly in to take over the carcass, leaving the smaller birds still hungry, and once again on the search for food, repeating the cycle.

“That’s interdependency,” Amazon John said.

A slimy toad and a green frog also appeared, along with some Madagascar hissing cockroaches. The world needs bugs as a food source for many animals, Amazon John said.

The students also saw a three-banded armadillo — a native of South America — which feels for grubs and insects through his hairy underbelly. And since he has no teeth, the flexible and shy creature must eat soft foods.

Eighth-grader Krislyn Brown held out her arm to become a tree for a soft and furry kinkajou — a nocturnal native of rainforests. With his long prehensile tail and his honeybear nickname, the kinkajou loves fruit and makes its bed out of big banana leaves, sleeping in the treetops.

Preschoolers from the Vikes and Tykes Daycare also got to see a presentation, with a blue-tongued skink displayed as a modern day dinosaur. And a friendly visit from Ellie the Great Dane drew some comparisons to a elephant, who is also gray and large and has big floppy ears.

Amazon John, who started Silly Safaris in 1997, presented the educational program for all middle schoolers, with a lot of humor and some interesting animal facts

For the preschoolers, however, he said it was enough to teach the youngsters that mammals have fur and reptiles have scales. He noted that some of the youngsters were less afraid of the animals than their adult chaperones, and that is natural, because fear is a learned behavior.

Amazon John said he has found that he doesn’t need big and dangerous animals to present the conservation message to children. A friendly bunny and a turtle are included in the safari. Teaching conservation education through the animal shows is a way to get young people connected with their environment and more in tune with how their actions affect the world of animals.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Obamas Attend Easter Service Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Raw: Crowds Rally at '420' Celebration in Denver Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria
NDN Video
Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News