Exotic Animals at James Elementary School

OTTUMWA— Students at James Elementary learned about several exotic animals during a 45-minute assembly on Friday.

Barn Hill Preserve from Louisiana presented their exotic animal educational program to a gym full of students at James. The interactive program provided information about each animal and then answered questions from the students.

The program featured a snake, bearded dragon, blue tongue skink, and a five-month-old kangaroo. Barn Hill staff also brought along a lop-eared rabbit, although they shared with students that it is a domestic animal, not exotic.

Most of the exotic animals came from Australia. Fun facts that students learned include:

  • Bearded dragons run on their back legs
  • While most blue animals are poisonous, the blue tongue skink is not
  • A domestic animal can’t survive in the wild
  • Kangaroos spend 8 months in their mother’s pouch before learning to walk and jump.

The favorite animal was the baby kangaroo.

“Background knowledge, such as learning about animals, is an important component of reading comprehension,” said Jay Green, James principal. “When we can bring those experiences to kids, it is a very cost-effective way of building background knowledge.”