America’s Teaching Zoo hosts annual “Spring Spectacular”


A child plays with a board at an exploration station while an EATM student shares fun facts about various animal diets, on March 26, 2023. Photo credit: Sulor Garretson

By Sulor Garretson

To welcome the spring season, America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College recently hosted its annual “Spring Spectacular.”

The Spring Spectacular took place during the weekends of March 18-19 and March 25-26. The event featured animal feedings, photo opportunities, food trucks and stations for visitors to learn more about the zoo and its inhabitants.

The event was put on by students of the college’s Exotic Animal Training and Management program. The students pointed out that this year’s Spring Spectacular ran smoothly in spite of noted struggles during rehearsals.

First-year EATM student Anaeli Lind was surprised at the successful outcome of Spring Spectacular given the hardships students in the program faced when trying to rehearse for the final production.

“With the huge rainstorm; we couldn’t practice as often,” Lind explained. “We were down six days of practice. So, to see it all come together and how good it looks; it’s pretty amazing.”

Upon entering the zoo, visitors at the Spring Spectacular were greeted with booths that offered a variety of goods including face paintings and souvenirs.

Camille Eastin is the owner and artist of Face Paint Smiles, one of the featured booths at the Spring Spectacular. Eastin expressed her gratitude for the zoo and for the students who partook in the event.

“The students have been my favorite part of the event,” Eastin said. “They’re very welcoming and they share all about the animals. It’s very magical.”

In addition to the booths, live scripted presentations featuring the zoo’s animals took place throughout the day.

On the zoo’s Wildlife Theatre, second-year EATM students hosted a show titled “Zoo Night Live.” These 30-minute displays began as early as 10:30 a.m. and highlighted different creatures, including the zoo’s very own Indian crested porcupine and turkey vulture.

Eye-to-eye performances took place in the zoo’s arena where EATM students gave a closer look at some of the animals who reside at the zoo. Each mammal and bird incorporated was accompanied by unique facts about their species.

Second-year EATM student shows the audience one of the animals featured in the eye-to-eye presentation, on March 26, 2023. Photo credit: Sulor Garretson

The final show offered in the Spring Spectacular’s lineup was the “Creature Feature.” This show gave the audience the chance to meet local wildlife experts who are working in distinct fields such as wildlife conservation and service animal training.

In an Instagram post about the Creature Feature show, America’s Teaching Zoo commemorated the bond animals and individuals share.

“All of these incredible people and animals came out to allow us to connect on different levels and understand the importance we all share with one another,” the post stated. “Thank you to those who presented and those who came to be inspired!”

In between the live performances, attendees were able take pictures with the zoo’s animals and treat themselves to snow cones provided by Kona Shave Ice.

Each sector of the zoo offered interactive exploration stations for people of all ages to learn about the various animals living in the enclosures. These booths were supervised by EATM students who shared background information on the animals and fun facts about the showcased species.

This year’s event also celebrated a special milestone for one its famed residents, Clarence the Galapagos tortoise, who turned 100 years old.

At the time of the Spring Spectacular, many of the second-year EATM students were completing their 22-month educational journey with the program. Through the live performances and learning stations at the event, these students were able to put into action the training they acquired throughout the EATM program.

All the proceeds raised by Spring Spectacular are intended to fund the zoo’s Master Plan. To learn more about America’s Teaching Zoo and what future events are in store, click here.