BERLIN - Children got to know some animals at the New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park‚Äôs Wild about Animals Valentine‚Äôs Day Party on Saturday.
Museum educators Holly Gagnon and Meaghan Jameson brought out some of the museum‚Äôs critters for a dozen children to pet and learn about.
‚ÄúDoes everybody know what a pigeon looks like? And you‚Äôve probably seen mourning doves. They‚Äôre all related,‚ÄĚ said Gagnon as she held a white dove she called Angel.
‚ÄúBecause he‚Äôs on the smaller side, we‚Äôre going to use two fingers, going nice and gently down his wing, and you can also touch his tail feathers,‚ÄĚ she said.
Jameson explained that birds shed their feathers when they groom.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs called molting,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThey molt throughout the year, different times for different birds. Our dove likes to molt around this time. Sometimes when you go by the birds‚Äô house [in the museum] you may see a lot of feathers on the ground. They shed their old feathers so new feathers can grow in, like when snakes shed their skin. We shed too, it‚Äôs just that our skin sheds is so small you don‚Äôt really see it.‚ÄĚ
When Jameson brought out a black and brown guinea pig next, one of the kids said ‚ÄúYay, I love this one. He makes noises!‚ÄĚ
Bruno makes so many noises that his nickname is ‚ÄúSqueaks,‚ÄĚ Jameson explained.
‚ÄúSqueaks used to live in the kitchen with us, so he knew when we prepped food. ‚ÄėPrepped‚Äô means when we made all their food,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúHe knows the sound of the refrigerator door opening. He can still hear it from his new house in the main area where you can see him. Now every time we open the door he squeaks, because that means that he thinks that he‚Äôs going to get fed.‚ÄĚ
She had the children be quiet for a moment so they could hear that guinea pigs also make a sort of purring sound. She explained that they eat vegetables, grass and hay, and their teeth keep growing all the time, so they also need wood pieces to chew on.
Then she put a carrot and some greens on the floor to let Bruno choose which he preferred. Turns out it was the carrot.
‚ÄúThe carrot is a little bit sweeter than his grains. Would you rather have candy or eat your vegetables?‚ÄĚ she asked
‚ÄúCandy!‚ÄĚ the kids replied.
Jameson also talked about how undecorated pumpkins can make special occasion treats for the museum‚Äôs cow, goats, chickens, and smaller animals.
‚ÄúOur goats like to kick the pumpkins,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThey sometimes nibble on them. Our cow likes to smell them because she‚Äôs very into smells. One time I was outside and I was eating a chocolate doughnut. I was talking to the cow, and she got right up into my face and started smelling my breath, so I‚Äôm pretty sure she liked it.‚ÄĚ
The children also got to meet a ferret, a leopard tortoise, and a black and white, floppy-eared rabbit called Speckles. This was followed by a craft activity in which they made rabbit cookies, from rabbit food, banana, and carrots.
‚ÄúWe bake them and when they‚Äôre nice and hard we feed them to our three rabbits,‚ÄĚ Gagnon said.
On Saturday, Feb. 17 the museum will host a Kids Night Out event. From 5 to 9 p.m. parents or guardians can drop of their children (ages 3-12 years old) for a night of fun including games, crafts, science experiments and animal programs. Pizza will also be provided for dinner.
Admission is $15 per child for members and $25 per child for non-members. Siblings will receive a $5 discount.
Advance registration is also advised.
For more information, call or visit .
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.