Sunday, July 18, 2010

Art Camp

Over the years HAWS has increasingly incorporated specialty camps into our schedule. One of the first specialty camps we started with is Art Camp.

For a week kids between the ages of 10 and 14 years attend our Art Camp. In the morning they do the things that our other camps do -- walk dogs, play with cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and other animals, do some volunteer work, and play some games. In the afternoon they create artwork.

Kristin Gjerdset, an associate professor of art at Wisconsin Lutheran College, spends several hours each day that week with the kids helping them capture animals in their artwork. Art is about really looking at things and intrepreting what you see. HAWS hopes that Art Camp helps kids see animals in a new way -- as creations that deserve to be respected and protected as creatures of beauty.

I'd say we achivieved that this year. Additionally -- we have a lot of very talented young artists in our community. Take a look at some of the pieces and I think you'll agree.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Love Happens to Cockatoo

I saw a Jennifer Aniston movie on DVD the other night called "Love Happens". In one scene the male lead in the movie, Burke, decides to follow up on the promise he made to his deceased wife to free her pet Cockatoo if anything happened to her. And so he takes the bird out to the woods in Seattle and releases it.
A beautiful sentiment, however extremely inhumane. Had Burke bothered to do any research before he rashley decided to free a bird used to being cared for by people he would have found that this was a bad idea.
Cockatoos are native to Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It's not likely that a cockatoo would be able to survive a winter in Seattle where it gets down to as low as 40F.
Additionally -- animals raised in captivity were never taught survival skills. Releasing a pet bird to fend for itself could end up with his being unable to properly forage and know how to avoid dangerous situations.
I know this is "just a movie", but it still bothered me that such an irresponsible act was portrayed in film without the plot line indicating in some way just what the possible consequences could be for the bird.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

HAWS -- Not Just For Mammals!

Many times people are amazed to find out that we get animals other than dogs and cats, and are even more suprised to find out that we'll take reptiles. HAWS can go months and months without seeing any reptiles come through our doors. That was the case until recently.

Currently we have several turtles of the species Red Eared Slider, two Bearded Dragons, and an albino Corn Snake.

The kids from HAWS Kids 'N Critters Day Camp especially loved meeting the Bearded Dragons. Their reactions ranged from "cool!" -- to "they're weird looking". Most of the kids wanted to hold them, although some of the kids were a bit unsure about it once their turn came.

Bearded Dragons get their name because if threatened the expand the area under their chin - puffing their necks out to look bigger and more threatening themselves. The two we currently have are used to being handled, and so didn't feel the need to threaten any of us -- my research found that Beardies are one of the easiest lizards to keep as pets because of their tolerance for handling.

Getting unusual animals in at HAWS gives me an opportunity to educate kids about animals they most likely aren't familiar with. The more knowledge they have about the natural habitat of exotic animals and what kind of requirements there are for proper care, the better choices we hope kids will make in the future. If we can get them in the habit of asking questions about animals and instill a desire to learn about them, it might cause them to research prospective pets before their bring them home.

Good pet ownership starts wtih making appropriate choices. HAWS hopes that through our education programs we're planting that seed with the youth of Waukesha County.