NEW YORK—For the first time, farm animals were the focus of fun and learning at the Queens Zoo as it debuted its Moo at the Zoo program.
“It’s timely, because it’s the harvest season,” said Thomas Hurtubise, manager of education at Queens Zoo.
Hurtubise toured around the farm section of the zoo, petted Garfunkel, the goat, and fed Taurus the Texas Longhorn cow. Hurtubise, who has worked for the zoo for 20 years, administers education programs here, including classes, camps, and overnight adventures for families.
For Hurtubise, combining education with fun is an essential part of the events he manages.
“If you want people to remember, you let them do stuff,” he said.
Moo at the Zoo lets visitors interact with farm animals, make their own butter using jars and cream, or try their hand at milking a cow using a simulator.
Theresa Barry from New Jersey brought her 9-year-old son James to the farm and was pleased with how the event turned out.
“It raises community awareness,” Barry said.
Barry has been educating James about eating well and eating local, which begins with developing a respect for the animals.
“It’s important for parents to get involved,” Barry said.
A booth set up by Organic Valley handed out green children’s activity booklets saying ‘The Future is Organic.’
“It should be, I would like it to be,” Barry said about the message. Organic Valley also provided glass jars with cream. James occupied himself with shaking the jar to make his own butter.
Another visitor of the zoo, Renee Freeman, said she thought the event is perfect for children. “The animals are tame so kids are able to interact with them,” she said.
Freeman, a teacher, said the event also helped children develop an appreciation for the animals.
“Instead of being afraid of them, they learn to understand them, and play with them,” Freeman said.
Hurtubise said the point is to get children involved early on.
“I want people to know, because in the end, I want these kids to be able to do something,” he said.
Hurtubise said that if the parents eat local and organic, the children will follow suit when they have to make their own food choices.
Look through the gallery of Moo at the Zoo.