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Fifth-grade class reaches out to help Exotic Animal Rescue

April 08, 2002|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Its antlers are on the rec room wall but there's still a hunk of venison from the buck that was shot three years ago languishing in the freezer.

Roscoe wants it. A tiger, Roscoe is one of six big cats -- two tigers, two lions and two lynx -- living at the East Coast Exotic Animal Rescue at 320 Zoo Road in Fairfield, Pa.

Each one eats about 40 pounds of meat every day.

The 110 fifth-graders in Fairview Elementary School have adopted the rescue as a community service project.

One of the things they do is collect frozen meat -- about 200 pounds so far -- and store it in the school freezer until they can deliver it to the rescue, said Jennifer Smith, 26, one of their teachers and a rescue volunteer.

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They also collect toys and blankets for the primates at the shelter, Smith said.

Last year's fifth-graders raised more than $3,100 for the rescue through a car wash and a direct-mail campaign, she said. This year they hope to do it again, she said.

This year about 300 letters will go to vendors who sell supplies and equipment to the school, local businesses and individuals, Smith said.

The students said they were inspired to adopt the rescue as a community service project after Susan Murray, who owns the rescue with her husband, Gary Murray, spoke to their class. Murray brought several species to school and explained why exotic animals don't make good house pets, Smith said.

The rescue takes in unwanted animals from zoos, the pet trade, from people who get them and decide they're too dangerous or too much trouble and from research labs.

"The monkeys come from research labs," Susan Murray said, adding that the Fairview fifth-graders are a big help.

"These kids are special," her husband said. "We really appreciate what they do."

She said the goal is to teach the students that it's not a good idea to have an exotic animal for a pet.

There are few restrictions in Pennsylvania law that ban people from keeping exotic pets. They have to be bred domestically, Murray said. It's illegal to keep wild animals.

Fifth-grader Cory Young, 11, said he doesn't have a pet, but he'd wouldn't have a tiger.

"I want to live," he said. "I want a dog."

"We have to help the exotic animals, especially those in people's houses, because people don't know how to take care of them," said Stephanie Stock, 10.

"People shouldn't have them," she added.

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