We strive to creatively engage, inspire and involve each of our residents through experiences that incorporate their individual passions and interests. Take a look at some of our truly inspiring programs.
Mary has never been what you would call an animal enthusiast. Sure, she liked dogs and cats, but she had never expressed a desire to learn about the more exotic members of the animal kingdom. That is until she moved to Cumberland Pointe and began to take regular outings to the zoo.
Staff members took notice when a normally very reserved Mary became curious and excited whenever they visited the zoo. Her eyes would grow wide as they passed the rare and wonderful creatures on the other side of each enclosure. She began to ask questions, lots of questions, about every animal she saw. Feathered, scaled, quilled or furry, Mary was engrossed in their habits, their diets, and their personalities. Those that accompanied Mary on these trips knew that they had to find a way to get her behind the scenes – so they did.
Before you ask, the answer is no. Staff members did not sneak Mary into an enclosure while zookeepers weren’t looking. Our campus team members may be wily, but they’re always professional. Instead, team members Erika, Meaghan, and Laura worked with the Columbian Park Zoo to make Mary a zookeeper for a day. As everyone had suspected, she was a natural.
Mary didn’t think twice when asked to prepare food for Polk the porcupine and then feed him. Others may have shied away from getting cozy with Rosetta, an intimidating, claw-footed armadillo, but not Mary. The standoffish attitude of Lancelot, the zoo’s bearded dragon, is off-putting for many, but Mary, armed with a snack, brought out his charming side. He didn’t even mind when she weighed him, along with his comrade in scales, Blue, the blue tongued skink. Dasher the ferret and Cotton the hedgehog took to Mary immediately, and Shiloh the tortoise was in turtle heaven when Mary rubbed mineral oil on her shell and fed her strawberries. Digger the anteater also benefited from Mary’s natural talent for zoo keeping. He was treated to a delicious lunch of worms and a relaxing back rub. Even Kenny the snake, who normally doesn’t make friends easily, found a friend in Mary.
Prickly or slimy, soft or spiky, Mary loved them all. You could see it in the glow of her eyes and the curve of her smile - she was living the dream. She wrapped up her afternoon with her fellow zookeepers who presented her with a parting gift and a card. Mary read the card aloud.
“We hope you made some special memories taking care of our animals. You’ll always be a zookeeper at the Columbian Park Zoo.”
“Oh Lord, honey,” she said quietly, smiling. “I was very, very glad to. I had a lot of fun.”
Mary smiled, the zookeepers smiled, and back in her home with a newly polished shell, Shiloh the tortoise smiled, too.