|Haily Leitzman, left, and Autumn Kutsick, third-graders at Granville Elementary School, get an up-close look at Pele, a Brazilian rainbow boa, and vice versa.|
|Michaelangelo Ngyen, left, and Allie Basinger check out a Pakistani gecko.|
|The Phoenix Zoo Zoomobile visits Granville Elementary School in Prescott Valley, Ariz., on Oct. 22, 2012, where students learned about survival techniques of nocturnal creatures and the different ways of adapting to the dark. Photos by Sue Tone.|
Granville Elementary School third-graders learned how some nocturnal animals can survive in the dark without being eaten by predators, thanks to the Phoenix Zoo Zoomobile and Carrie Flood, Zoomobile coordinator.
Flood and her "crew" visited Granville Monday, providing an opportunity to teach students about the adaptations these creatures develop to see, hear and sense better in a nighttime environment.
"These animals assume that you are here to eat them. They see 75 hunters staring at them," Flood said in her introduction, requesting the children sit with their legs crossed, use inside voices, and keep hands in laps.
Darth Vader on a twig came out from under cover first, using the long antennae of a long-horned cactus beetle. The slow-moving insect's black color helps keep it safe at night. Darth, as with all the Zoomobile visitors, traveled up and down the rows of students for close-up viewing.
Next was an arachnid with its eight legs, a bark scorpion that remained in its container - with the lid securely fastened. It smells the ground through sensory setae, or fins, on its belly, Flood said. Humans can see the glow cast by scorpions with the help of a black light; its glimmer attracts insects to it for easy meals.
Granville's mascot is the gecko, so it was appropriate to introduce Boomer, a gecko from Pakistan, next. Its skin keeps it camouflaged among the sand and small black pebbles of his home, Flood said. Geckos also have vertical pupils like cats to see better at night.
Pele, a 17-year-old Brazilian rainbow boa, elicited mostly excitement, but also a little bit of uncertainty from some students. Flood made a wide berth around students who sat with crossed arms, which indicated they did not want Pele "sniffing" at them with its tongue.
The final animal was an African pygmy hedgehog with whiskers and a good sense of smell.
Students voted on which creature to touch on their way out of the gym. No surprise, it was Pele, followed by a squirt of hand sanitizer.