The Zoo Lab is an educational and therapeutic initiative designed to encourage students (pre-K through 6) to learn about, interact with, and care for some of the animal species who share our world, in the context of a comprehensive interdisciplinary environmental studies curriculum. It is one of the many extra-curricular programs run by the Primary School to enrich the children's learning experience.
Last summer, Israel experienced record-breaking temperatures and this was very hard on the animals. Despite various experiments with ice and water, the Giant Rabbits (a special kind of rabbit) and chinchillas died. The children, on returning to school, were very sad about this. The birds managed all right, perhaps because some of these are warm weather varieties. Currently, there are cockatiels from Australia and doves from Africa. There are also parrots, guinea pigs. silkie chickens and ordinary rabbits.
All of the children in the school spend time with the animals for one class hour per week. The younger children mainly pet them and follow the progress of egg hatchings and births, etc. The older children take more responsibility. Among the tasks are gathering food, including kitchen waste, greens from nature and bought food (seeds and mixtures). They learn about how the animals protect themselves from parasites by eating herbs such as rosemary, and add these also to their food. Another responsibility is taking the waste from the floor of the zoo lab to use as compost in the plant nursery. All the children love the zoo lab, and some show a special penchant for taking responsibility there.
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