Monday, May 21 , 2018, 10:04 pm | Fair 59º

 
 
 
 

Zoo Visitors Unfazed by Construction Phase

California Trails exhibit is changing the landscape but animals are still the big attraction.

[Editor’s note: I recently had the privilege of sitting in on Annette Bannister’s writing classes for home-schooled students held at the Goleta Valley Community Center. The 12 students — sixth- through eighth-graders — were quite accomplished writers and I was impressed by the maturity and range of their young voices. They were all attentive and polite kids, too.

We discussed some pretty complex issues, such as why there’s a separation between straight news and opinion, the need for an editorial board, and how best to structure an editorial. The discussions were spirited and everyone spoke up. The kids also peppered me with the more mundane but often vexing questions, such as how you use a second name reference when writing about a husband and wife. During one class, we made a field trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo where the students observed Noozhawk’s Rob Kuznia interview animal care supervisor Michele Green for a story on gorillas. One of their assignments was to write an editorial on the merits of home schooling; you read four of them earlier this week.

Over the next few days we’ll be publishing some of the news and feature stories written by these students — often collaboratively. I think you’ll be as impressed as I was and I hope you’ll take the time to comment on them. Remember, these are sixth- and seventh-graders and one eighth-grader.

Now, to answer your follow-up questions, “What about my kid?” and “How about my school?” In case you hadn’t noticed, Noozhawk is all about community journalism and we’re proud to have so many of you contribute to our coverage. E-mail me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to discuss how we might get your child involved, as well.

Thank you.

— William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk publisher]

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Home-school sixth-graders Lainie Watson, left, and Ellie Teel are Noozhawk interns. (Annette Bannister photo)

It’s not dirty; it’s construction work!

The Santa Barbara Zoo is under renovation, putting in a new exhibit featuring the California condors, as well as relocating the playground to make it better and safer.

The California Trails exhibit will consist of the California condors, the Channel Island foxes and the bald eagles.

“The California Trails pathway will start at Elephant Junction and wind its way through the area between Elephant Junction and the barnyard area,” said Michele Green, animal care supervisor for the mammals.

California Trails should be open early next year. In the meantime, visitors are encountering a changed landscape at the zoo, 500 Niños Drive.

“The only inconvenience so far is that once we wanted to go directly to the gorillas, since we didn’t have much time, and we had to walk a longer way around with the stroller. But, there was a dirt path cut through, so if we hadn’t had a stroller, it would not have affected us as much,” said Heather Weitzel of Santa Barbara.

“I like how they covered the chain-link fences with a pretty green canvas and they have lots of signs explaining what paths to use to get around the patches of renovation,” said Annette Bannister of Santa Barbara.

The zoo has been helping people by putting up temporary signs during the renovation to help visitors find the exhibits. Workers also have put up a green canvas to hide the chain-link fence.

“I do believe that the zoo is doing its best to keep the animals happy,” Weitzel said. “Like many things in life, we have to experience a bit of temporary inconvenience and discomfort to arrive at truly better situations in our lives … This will be temporary for (the animals) and they will enjoy their new living quarters when the zoo has completed the work.”

The zoo is reworking the paths, making them into a zigzag pattern to make it easier for mothers with strollers. The zoo has a few steep hills, which make it difficult for mothers with young children.

The zoo has been renovating its gorilla exhibit also. So far, mostly structural work has been completed, along with changing out the trees and plants. The Western Lowland gorillas were off exhibit for a couple of months and have recently come back.

The playground has been relocated, and is more interactive for parents and their children. The zoo added a spider web climbing rope plans to add more playground equipment.

“I love the new playground, because I am able to play with my children instead of watching them from a distance,” Bannister said.

Home-school sixth-graders Ellie Teel and Lainie Watson are Noozhawk interns.

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