TRURO – Students couldn’t hide their amazement yesterday as they set their eyes on four animals they may never see up close again.
About 50 students at Colchester Christian Academy spent an hour with Brittany Weatherall and Mandy Corbett with Earth Rangers.
Earth Rangers educate and empower children to ‘Bring Back the Wild,’ and travel to schools annually with different species of animals.
“I think it was pretty cool,” said Parker Steeves, a 13-year-old Grade 7 student, about the visit in which students learned about and saw black and white tegus, American Kestrels, red-tailed hawks and Peregrine falcons.
“I really liked it when the birds flew over our heads from one post to another,” said Parker.
The students also learned about protecting four other species this year – blanding’s turtles, beluga whales, western bumblebees and barn swallows.
“I like how they actually raise awareness and try to save some species,” said Karla Nasralla, another 13-year-old student from Truro. “I liked learning about barn swallows and how they used to live in caves, and how Earth Rangers is trying to make homes for them.”
“I’d only seen them on commercials before,” added Parker.
“I only thought it was an online thing, but it was pretty cool,” said Karla.
The first animal students were introduced to was Diego, a black and white tegu native to South America.
“They’re known as a burrowing lizard,” explained Corbett while walking around with Diego in her arms. “One really neat thing about their tails is that they’re whip tails. They use it as balance, and they use it as a defence to predators.”
The students learned that tegus, like Diego, will try to smack a predator in its face. If all else fails, it can distract the predator by detaching its tail.
Following Diego came Maverick, an American kestrel – the smallest of the falcon family.
“An American kestrel can take down a bird of up to twice its size,” Corbett explained while Maverick bobbed up and down on her hand.
Two of the animals that got the biggest response from the students were Hook, a year-old red-tailed hawk, and Kateri, a Peregrine falcon.
Both birds, known for tackling their prey with their talons, flew from the front of the room to the back, before flying to the front post. Both birds flew the space twice, giving all the students an opportunity to feel the wind beneath their wings.
With the organization’s mission to educate and empower children, the youth can become Earth Rangers themselves online and do what they can to save the species at risk.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Karla. “I like that you can win prizes for missions.”
Earth Rangers will be hosting a free public event at the Lafarge Canada cement plant in Brookfield on Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. Visitors can see the animals during a meet and greet, and ask the trainers questions. A complimentary barbecue will also be on site.