Alondra BlandonAlondra Blandon has worked at LHS's Animal Discovery Room since October 2007. Her job at LHS isn't her first with animals before earning an M.A. in environmental education from Cal State San Bernardino, she worked as a naturalist-center coordinator and intern-program assistant at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. She appears above with Kelby, a green iguana. (Wendy Edelstein photo)

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Alondra Blandon
Manager, Animal Discovery Room, Lawrence Hall of Science

20 November 2008

What is the purpose of the Animal Discovery Room?

It's used for education, and to instill a general love for and appreciation of animals.

Who does the room serve?

Kids ranging from age two through high school come in to look at the animals, and classes and camps are held here so that kids can learn about them and handle them.

What kinds of animals live here?

We have desert tortoises, river skinks, Argentine horn frogs and tomato frogs, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, northern walking sticks, and a couple of different kinds of box turtles. There's also a common boa constrictor and a Colombian red-tail boa. We have Russian tortoises, pond turtles, and many kinds of king snakes. And then there's Kelby, our green iguana, one of our larger reptiles.

What do you do each day?

It varies. I supervise our students, who do the bulk of the labor washing tubs, mopping and sweeping the floor, scrubbing and cleaning cages. Sometimes I teach camps or classes. When there's an emergency, I bring the animal to one of the veterinarians on campus. I make regular supply runs to the East Bay Vivarium for frozen mice. And every week, I buy food for the animals at the Berkeley Bowl.

What kind of food do they eat?

For treats, some of them get apples and oranges, but mostly they eat a lot of greens dandelion greens, kale, pea sprouts, and collard greens. A couple of our geckos that would eat overly ripe food in the wild get baby food.

What question do you get asked most often?

"Do you do any research on our animals?" We certainly don't. Our animals get a lot of love we even do enrichment for them.

What do you mean by enrichment?

We try to keep them stimulated. For snakes, we spray sticks with apple scent and put it in their habitat to entice them out of their hide boxes. We use special massage techniques for the turtles. Their vertebrae are connected to the back of their shell, so they can feel it if you touch them. Chinchillas like to tear apart stuffed animals and boxes.

What do you like most about your job?

Being around the animals. I can't help but watch them they're fascinating!

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