Columbian Park Zoo receives international recognition

The Columbian Park Zoo is being recognized internationally for one of its outreach programs.
The Columbian Park Zoo is being recognized internationally for one of its outreach programs.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Columbian Park Zoo is being recognized internationally for one of its outreach programs.

Two years ago, Amber Frederick and Noah Shields started an interactive outreach program to teach students about the eastern hellbender, the largest salamander found in North America.

The program has been taught to at least 1,000 sixth-graders in Greater Lafayette.

“[The eastern hellbender] is an endangered species,” assistant zoo director Noah Shields said. “We went out and talked to [students] about some of the issues the species is facing in the wild, as well as some of the things that they can do to help here in Lafayette locally.”

Recently, the program was acknowledged in the International Zoo Educators Association Journal. The association’s mission is to improve and share the latest thinking, techniques and information in conservation education.

“It was pretty exciting,” Shields said. “It’s one of the first things that we’ve been recognized for here in an International Journal here at Columbian Park Zoo. It was really interesting and exciting to get that notoriety in that publication.”

He said they were up against bigger zoos and education outreach facilities around the world. He feels lucky to be one of the few to get published.

“The most important things for us is getting the local community to be aware for some of the issues for some of these animals that we’re caring for, as well as other species around them or in other parts of the world,” Shields said.

The zoo encourages members of the community to make appropriate lifestyle choices to help our endangered species survive.