KENSINGTON - Children got to know some animals at the New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Parkâ€™s Wild about Animals Valentineâ€™s Day Party on Saturday.
Museum educators Holly Gagnon and Meaghan Jameson brought out some of the museumâ€™s animal residents for a dozen children to pet and learn about.
â€śDoes everybody know what a pigeon looks like? And youâ€™ve probably seen mourning doves, theyâ€™re all related,â€ť said Gagnon, as she held a snow white dove she called Angel.
â€śBecause heâ€™s on the smaller side weâ€™re going to use two fingers, going nice and gently down his wing, and you can also touch his tail feathersâ€ť she said.
Jameson explained that birds shed their feathers when they groom.
â€śItâ€™s called molting,â€ť she said. â€śThey molt throughout the year, different times for different birds. Our dove likes to molt around this time. Sometimes when you go by the birdsâ€™ 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, itâ€™s just that our skin sheds is so small you donâ€™t really see it.â€ť
When Jameson brought out a black and brown guinea pig next, one of the kids said â€śYay, I love this one. He makes noises!â€ť
Bruno the guinea pig makes so many noises his nickname is â€śSqueaks,â€ť Jameson explained.
â€śSqueaks used to live in the kitchen with us so he knew when we prepped food, prepped means when we made all their food,â€ť she said. â€śHe 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 heâ€™s going to get fed.â€ť
She had the kids 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 him choose which he preferred. Turns out it was the carrot. â€śThe carrot is a little bit sweeter than his grains. Would you rather have candy or eat your vegetables?â€ť she asked
â€śCandy!â€ť the kids replied.
Jameson also talked about how undecorated pumpkins can make special occasion treats for the museumâ€™s cow, goats, chickens, and smaller animals.
â€śOur goats like to kick the pumpkins,â€ť she said. â€śThey sometimes nibble on them. Our cow likes to smell them because sheâ€™s 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 Iâ€™m pretty sure she liked it.â€ť
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.
â€śWe bake them and when theyâ€™re nice and hard we feed them to our three rabbits,â€ť 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 off discount. Advance registration is also advised.
For more information call 860-827- 9064 or visit newbritainyouthmuseum.org.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.