Students Make Popsicles For Zoo Elephants

The Caldwell Zoo was invaded this morning by dozens of to-be 4th and 5th graders with one goal in mind: to see how the animals would react to the bizarre objects they were making.

One group cooked up some elephant-sized popsicles filled with produce. Another group made something for a smaller species: pumpkin paste desserts for squirrel monkeys, who must find the combination of honey, peanut butter, raisins, and oatmeal pretty tasty. Yet another group of students got their hands busy hiding produce in milk cartons to play tricks on the goats. And some youngsters designed toys to keep the macaws busy.

All this leading up to the moment of truth: How would the animals react to these foreign objects?

The elephant experiment proved to be the most interesting. Even the giraffes were interested to see. We asked the campers what they thought the elephants would do upon seeing the popsicles.

"Lick it," Chase Conner, a 5th grader at Holloway Elementary School in Whitehouse, said.

"Because we lick our popsicles like that," Sh'torian McFail, a 4th grader at Ramey Elementary, said. "And I thought they would be kind of like us."

But there was no licking. Each of the four elephants examined a huge popsicle with their trunks, then proceeded to crush it with one foot.

"If that was we, we couldn't do that," Marquia Acy, a 5th grader at Orr Elementary, said. "We couldn't break it with one foot. I didn't know that they had fingers on their trunks."

"They were just going for the fruit instead of the ice," Conner said.

For the teachers, today's lesson on animal behavior seemed quite a success.

"It was pretty cool," McFail said.

Next week, the students will make mini movies using video from their trip to the zoo and they'll write a short book about their adventures.

Julie Tam, reporting.