Sep 6, 2014 8:01 PM by Charlene Cheng
Every good show deserves an encore performance.
This season of Turtle Bay Exploration Park's "Walk on the Wild Side" animal show got a couple of extra presentations, featuring some special guests, a group of teenaged animal trainers.
"There's nothing like having a hawk on your glove, holding a snake, being able to educate the public," said Euan Harrington, a senior at Foothill High School.
These young volunteers have been working with the park all year long, cleaning pens, ushering the shows, and now, handling animals for visitors.
"We work a lot. We have two eight hour shifts every week, and that gives us such a huge opportunity to build really inter-connectional bonds with the animals, that we can actually begin to have lots of trust with some of the birds and such," said freshman Gloria Helmbold, who's homeschooled in Redding.
The animal care volunteer program was started by Curator of Animal Programs Sharon Clay, who says that she would have been thrilled to have this opportunity when she was a teenager.
"I really feel like what we do is very special and we're very privileged to do it, but it's not rocket science. It's something that teens and anybody can learn to do if you're dedicated and committed to doing it," Clay said.
Clay says that her goal is to help the teens learn life skills and build confidence, but for some volunteers, working with animals has become a career goal.
"This confirmed the whole thing. At first I wasn't really sure, but then after working here, I mean it was just like this is definitely the thing for me," Harrington said.