February 18, 2020
Two groups of preschoolers from One by One and Two by Two spent Thursday, February 13, at Ardastra Gardens and Wildlife Conservation Centre getting up close and personal with story book animals. Ardastra’s education administrator, Onisa Lundy is pictured with the tots. Photo courtesy of DeNature Photography
It was an exciting, sun-drenched day filled with “firsts” for 144 preschoolers – the first time they chased a peafowl, met a Bahamian boa or stroked the hardback of Hook, a sulcata tortoise.
For Ardastra Gardens it was just another Thursday, educating youngsters about the wonders of wildlife.
Eyes sparkled, fingers pointed here, there and everywhere and jumbo smiles flashed in abundance as three and four-year-olds from Centreville’s One on One and Blue Hill Road South Two by Two Academy reveled in what for many were their first trip to the conservation centre. A few teary outbursts aside – when curious flamingos wandered a bit too close for comfort – the outside “playtime” was a rare treat, the students’ reward for participating in the schools’ Valentine’s fundraiser.
“The kids like animals and birds. We wanted the children to experience something that was cultural. They are quite excited about the flamingos’ wide wingspan and the color, of course. They think they [the flamingos] are beautiful,” said Kristine Sandiford, owner/director of both preschools.
“This was a fun experience, a learning experience. It was especially enriching for the 15 students we sponsor who are from Abaco. This experiences that Nassuvians takes for granted, they wouldn’t necessarily have in Abaco. For all the students this is something that will be memorable for a lifetime.”
Having spent a great deal of time talking to her K3 students about the different types of animals, Two by Two teacher, Stacy-Ann Brooks wasn’t surprised by their level of enthusiasm.
“Being able to see and touch some of the animals, I know they will remember this experience. They are more relaxed outside of the classroom setting. It’s more fun for them,” she said.
“This is a first-hand experience so it’s helping to bring learning to life. We typically talk about the pink flamingo during Independence or when we have Bahamian Day, now they have a real-life experience of actually seeing a pink flamingo and knowing what it’s like.”
Ardastra is home to over 200 creatures representing 50 species.
In their two and a half-hour tour the youngsters, who visited the gardens in two separate groups, saw many of Ardastra’s residents, including colorful lorikeets, barn owls, the Bahama parrot, pigs, rabbits, the dwarf caiman (a small crocodile) and capybaras (the world’s largest rodents).
“I wasn’t about to miss my daughter’s first time coming to Ardastra Gardens,” said Christal Davis, a Two by Two parent chaperone who embraced the opportunity to reacquaint herself with the lush gardens she last visited as a little girl.
“I can’t wait to see the snake. My daughter, she wants to touch every animal here. She loves animals. It has been a learning experience for her, learning patience and what she can and can’t touch, having that respect for the animals. I love it.”
Three and four-year-olds from Centreville’s One on One and Blue Hill Road South Two by Two Academy reveled in what for many were their first trip to Ardastra Gardens Wildlife and Conservation Centre on Thursday, February 13. Photo courtesy of DeNature Photography
Ardastra’s snake charmer and animal care specialist, Christina Smith introduces preschoolers to one of the gardens three Bahamian Boas, the 5.5-foot long Lilly. Photo courtesy of Precision Media
Excited preschoolers easily identify the Bahama Parrot at Ardastra Gardens Wildlife & Conservation Centre. Photo courtesy of Precision Media
Christal Davis, a Two by Two parent chaperone was excited to hold a Bahamian Boa. Photo courtesy of Precision Media