An Up Close Encounter At Phoenix Zoo

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This is the second year fifth-graders at Frontier Elementary School have gone on an overnight field trip to the Phoenix Zoo.

"The coolest thing I learned is that all scorpions glow under ultraviolet light." student Dillon Walker said.

"We had a great time viewing animals at the zoo at night and in the morning," fifth-grade teacher Katie Hoff said. "Those are times the public doesn't normally get to see the animals. At night we got to see the raccoons come out. That is when they are most active. We saw monkeys eat their breakfast early in the morning."

Students of Hoff and Donna Haught boarded the bus a couple hours after school last Wednesday afternoon. They went straight into the classroom after eating their sack dinners. At a presentation geared especially for them by the Phoenix Zoo, children were able to see snakes, scorpions, and a Fennec fox up close. "The fox was very small and looked like a little Chihuahua at first. It had big ears and was sand colored except the black tip of its tail," Haught said.

After the presentation and some games, the children went on a walking tour, Haught said.

"They get to see the nocturnal animals when they are awake," she said.

It was probably 11:30 p.m., before the humans went to sleep.

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Zac Wilson and Spencer Hall were just two of many fifth-graders at Frontier Elementary School who enjoyed their overnight field trip to the Phoenix Zoo.

Most of the students agreed it was worth the lost sleep to see javelina, owls, bobcats and raccoons. The ocelot seemed to be their favorite.

"It was pretty active pacing back and forth, which is one of its habits," Haught said. Zookeepers spray different scents around its cage so it gives the ocelot something interesting to check out. They'll use perfume, different scents from different animals and different food scents.

Haught said her class went over some vocabulary in preparation for the field trip. The kids learned the meaning and spellings of words such as nocturnal, diurnal, crepuscular -- an animal most active in the twilight.

"We talked about herbivores, carnivores," she said. "We talked about animals that live in the desert and desert plants. Just some basics," Haught said.

The children are still talking about the fun they had.

"My favorite thing at the zoo would have to be the rhino because I liked his horns. They're big," Hunter Barr said.

Several students have asked their parents when they can go back to the visit the zoo.

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