Kids and Nature

Up Close and Personal at Animalpalooza

September 15, 2011

Most kids recognize the ring-tailed lemur only as the animated character King Julien from the feature cartoon Madagascar. In real life, this endangered, highly social primate is known for its vocal activity and sun bathing — and it will soon be one of many animals in San Francisco, waiting to meet kids ready to go beyond the DVD player.

On September 24, San Francisco-based nonprofit Save Nature is working in cooperation with the Insect Discovery Lab, Tree Frog Treks, Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Aquarium of the Bay, Classroom Safari, the San Francisco Zoo, and several other wildlife agencies to hold AnimalPalooza at Fort Mason.

The event aims to create an opportunity for kids to interact with exotic and local animals such as beetles, porcupines, millipedes, pythons, hedgehogs, ocelots, lemurs, alligators, and many more.

“Most of us here at Save Nature have a deep love for animals,” said Mira Luna, Save Nature’s conservation associate. “We want to share that love with these kids and hope that they develop the same love and empathy. Touching and interacting with animals is a great way to make them more real for kids.”

It can be easy for kids growing up in a city to become disconnected with nature, where nature can seem to exists only on television or the covers of magazines.

Luna hopes the opportunity to hold a snake, pet a lemur, and see a walking-stick insect will spark the imaginations of city kids and inspire them to find meaning in the natural world around them. It is that sort of foundation, says Luna, that will help ensure the longevity of wildlife here in the Bay Area and abroad.

In addition to the chance to get up close and personal with animals of all types, the event will feature face painting, owl pellet dissection, insect mask painting, wildlife origami, and videos of local sharks and mountain lions. Scientists and experts will also be on site to answer any questions.

To broaden the community of families able to attend, 200 tickets have been donated to groups working with low-income families in San Francisco’s more impoverished neighborhoods.

Admission to the event is $8 for children and $10 for adults, but with various packages available for families. Order tickets at Get a $2 discount if you enter the code “baynature.” Tickets are also available at the door. For more information, call (415)648-3392.

About the Author

Marin native and surfer Richard Karevoll just graduated from San Francisco State with a degree in journalism.