Written by Sofia Stocco, Student Journalist
St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Barrie may be home of the jaguars, but they welcomed a baby white lion into their grade twelve biology class! On December 22, the furry cub was brought into the school by the Persi family, owners of the Elmvale Jungle Zoo, to aid in a presentation and promote hands-on learning in the classroom.
Mrs. Penny's university-level biology class were asked to present about an endangered species. Tyler P. and his presentation partner decided to bring biology to life. Tyler’s family owns the Elmvale Jungle Zoo, and had a six week old baby white lion that was perfect for a visit to the school.
Many students both in the class and others who weren't went to Mrs. Penny's classroom to watch the presentation and see the endangered little big cat. Even the school's principal Mr. Timmins was very excited about the furry visitor! Before the baby white lion could get to the biology room, she had a playtime session in the main office, bounding after papers and pens. When the lion was in the classroom, students were cautioned to be very quiet to avoid upsetting the only six week old nameless female.
The classroom filled with "aw's" as Tyler P. and his father took the lion out of her carrier and gave a quick speech about the little cub. Throughout the talk, the white lion continuously attempted to get out of Tyler's grip but was satisfied with a belly rub. After learning more about the little lion and her species, Tyler carried the cub around the room, allowing students and teachers to take photos (without flash), and pet the lion. The lion was very friendly and very vocal, often letting out adorable attempts at roars that sounded more like a sheep, something that was also similar to the way her thick white fur felt.
One student in Mrs. Penny's class said. "I thought the lion was adorable, and I managed to get a video of it trying to roar. It was such a great learning opportunity and really brought everything we were covering in textbooks to life!" Mrs. Penny agreed about bringing textbook knowledge into an interactive and fun learning style. She said, "a hands-on learning environment definitely engages students. This was evident by the look on the student's faces as they had the opportunity to personally interact with the baby white lion. We are all very grateful to Tyler P.’s family for providing St. Joseph's students with this amazing experience".
Overall, the baby white lion visit was a huge success and an amazing learning opportunity. The visit was a great way to conclude the class’ unit on populations of species at risk, and was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the biology students. The white cub didn't want to leave all the excitement of seeing her first large group of humans, and the students didn't want her to go home either!
The Elmvale Jungle Zoo opens on May 22nd!