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Vet school program delights Walpole youth

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By Daniel Curtin
Hometown Weekly Reporter

A close encounter with Gatorade the alligator. Photos by Daniel Curtin

A close encounter with Gatorade the alligator. Photos by Daniel Curtin

Local children tested their knowledge of animals as they pet and learned about different furry and scaly critters at a vet school program in Walpole last Thursday.

Wicked Cool for Kids, in association with the Walpole Recreation Department, offered the vet school, which allowed participants to get up close and personal with various animals. Kids in the program had the opportunity to pet everything from a soft little rabbit to a smooth, scaly American alligator.

“I get as excited as the kids to see the animals,” said Coleman Lunt, who worked as an education consultant at the camp. “I think it's a very unique program because for the kids interested in animals, it is an alternative. It gets them interested in a field they might like, [and it’s] at an early age.”

About a dozen young children attending the program floated questions about the animals, asking where they came from and how they defended themselves in the wild.

Animal Adventures brought along a black pine snake, a chinchilla, and a lionhead rabbit named Chewbacca, among others. Several of the different animals that the children met were rescued from owners that were not able to give them proper care. One example was Gatorade, an American alligator.

Chewbacca the bunny receives attention from vet school students. Photos by Daniel Curtin

Chewbacca the bunny receives attention from vet school students. Photos by Daniel Curtin

When looking closely at Gatorade, program participants noticed that he was missing several fingers. Animal Adventures received the alligator from an apartment, where it was left in a tank with three other gators. They were essentially starved for months. The gators ate each other to survive; Gatorade ended up being the last one left.

Naturally, when the kids pet and held Gatorade, his mouth was taped shut to make sure everything was safe.

“I hope they learn stuff,” said Alex Goodwin, manager of Animal Adventures. “I know they’re kids, so it doesn’t always work. I like to do these programs. It’s really a kind of amazing thing to watch because some kids, they’re not as privileged as others, so when they see [animals] that they have never seen before, the look on their faces - it’s like the greatest thing for these kids.”

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