Our Night Owl program began on Friday evening in the Croft Center at the Nashville Zoo. After everyone had arrived, our leaders, Kelly and Danielle, went over the itinerary and the rules. Our first activity was exploring the Unseen New World – the area where we would actually be sleeping later that night. Scouts, siblings, and adults enjoyed exploring and learning about the various fish, reptiles, and insects that inhabited the exhibit. The Unseen New World also houses the bird aviary, but they were asleep and not to be disturbed.
When we had finished exploring, we returned to our classroom in the Croft Center for a time of learning (all about endangered animals and bird migration patters), crafts (DIY fossils), games (the scouts got to be migratory birds), and snack (goldfish and lemonade).
Then we bundled up (just a little), and grabbed our flashlights for a night walk in the zoo. Kelly instructed everyone to turn our flashlights off and we found that there was plenty of ambient light for us to find our way. Near the Meercat exhibit we stopped for a “magic trick” – letting one eye adjust to the dark by keeping it closed and covered while the other eye stayed open while Kelly shined her flashlight around. When she turned the flashlight off and we opened both eyes, we found we could see colors in the dark!
It didn’t take us long to move our gear from the classroom to the exhibit area downstairs and each person staked out a place to spend the night. Scouts enjoyed sleeping with iguanas, turtles, and bats.
The next morning started early, as we had to get our gear packed up and out to our vehicles before breakfast (cereal & milk, orange juice, and a banana). It was during this time that Heather (zoo coordinator) came in and informed us that it was Kelly’s birthday! Of course we had to sing to her. Once everything had been cleared out and everyone had finished eating, we moved to a different classroom for an animal presentation. We got to meet a baby toucan, a boa constrictor, and an affectionate hornbill. The toucan, Pete, is learning tricks and needed to practice hopping across “branches” (see picture at top of page). Everyone got to pet the birds and the snake.
The last activity was a morning walk. It had started to sprinkle, but that didn’t slow us down as we headed out. The first stop was the flamingo enclosure where we got to watch all 23 flamingos come running for their breakfast. Their keeper talked to us about the birds for a few minutes and answered every question we could come up with. As the rain started coming down a little harder we walked through the bamboo forest to the Clouded Leopard and Red Panda enclosure which provided some shelter from the rain.
Our program now completed, we thanked Kelly and Danielle and headed to various areas of the zoo (admission was included in our fee). All in all, Pack 8 had a great time at the Nashville Zoo and highly recommend the Night Owl program to other groups looking for an overnight experience. Special thanks to Heather for helping us coordinate our trip, and to Kelly and Danielle for a wonderful experience.