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Unleash Your Child's Wild Side at the Queens Zoo Summer Camps

By Smriti Rao | June 7, 2012 1:02pm
Let kids horse around this summer with creepy, crawly and cuddly animals at the Queens Zoo's summer camps.
Let kids horse around this summer with creepy, crawly and cuddly animals at the Queens Zoo's summer camps.
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Julie Larsen Maher

FLUSHING — It's your kids' turn to go wild at the Queens Zoo.

The popular Flushing animal mecca has announced it's hosting its fourth season of summer camps this year, giving children the chance to feed baby lambs, pet snakes and cuddle rabbits.

There are even two new programs on the schedule, zoo officials said. Registration for camps — and teen internships — is now open for children aged 4 to 17.

All participants will have the opportunity to get up close with most of the wild and domestic animals housed in the 18-acre zoo. For the little ones, this will include visits with the zoo's youngest farm residents — its new calf, a baby lamb and the newborn Alpaca.

"Each day is different," said Thomas Hurtubise, director of the zoo's summer camp program. "They may see birds, a snake, a lizard."

Instructors stress hands-on activities to ensure kids retain what they learn, Hurtubise said.

There are five, age-specific camp options, plus a three-week teen internship.

The "Kinderzoo" program offers a excellent introduction for 4- and 5-year-olds, offering them a chance to compare how animals live in the wild and on farms, officials said. The first session of this five-day camp runs from June 25-29, with a second session set for August 27-31. The camp costs $250 for members and $275 for non-members.

In the "Week of Wildlife" camp for 6- and 7-year-olds, children will learn the difference between mammals, reptiles, birds and amphibians. They'll also learn how to set up a compost bin and study animals that help to decompose waste — including worms and insects. The "Week of Wildlife" camp "is definitely one of our most popular," Hurtubise said.

The first session of this camp runs from July 9-13, with a second session planned for July 30 to August 3. It costs $300 for zoo members and $325 for non-members.

The four-day “Junior Keeper” program for 10- to 12-year-olds shows children the hard work that goes into maintaining zoo exhibits. These older students will get a behind-the-scenes look at how to care for animals, clean cages and maintain a feeding schedule.  The kids will also get the chance to prepare special treats for their favorite animals.

The "Junior Keeper" program runs from July 23-27. Participants can also design their own exhibit for an end-of-week “Exhibit Fair.” The program is $300 for members and $325 for non-members.

The toddler sessions are full, according to the zoo website.

There's no room for monkey business in the rigorous three-week "Teen Internship" program, which accepts only 24 participants, ages 13 to 17, per class.

With its classes in animal behavior, horticultural and zoo-keeping duties, the project-based program is designed to "keep teens very busy," Hurtubise said.

"The zoo gets a lot of students each year that are interested in pursuing animal studies of some sort as a career," Hurtubise said. "I have interns from last year who are scheduled to come in again this summer."

The internship runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., from Aug. 6-24, and costs $1,000 for members and $1,250 for non-members.

For more details and a full list of programs, go here.

"We have never had a situation where kids have not walked away learning something from these camps," Hurtubise said.