Rowan’s Family Weekend goes wild with petting zoo in Student Center


This past Saturday, Rowan After Hours (RAH) welcomed students and their families to enjoy RAH Gone Wild, a petting zoo in and around the Chamberlain Student Center.

Part of Rowan’s Family Weekend activities, the crowd consisted of students as well as their parents, siblings, grandparents and other relatives.

“We thought RAH Gone Wild was a really good fit for Family Weekend,” said Tom Marsella, the graduate coordinator for RAH. “It’s really family oriented. Kids love petting zoos. It’s something fun for the whole family that everyone can enjoy.”

The petting zoo was split into two categories: smaller animals placed in the Student Center Pit and farm animals found on the back patio. Some of the animals featured in the Pit were a tortoise, a chinchilla, an ocelot and a skunk. People had the opportunity to hold a naked mole rat, a parrot, a boa constrictor and a fennec fox.

“I loved holding the fox and seeing all of the fluffy, cute animals,” said Allison Gilbert, a sophomore math education major.

While some people were frightened by the boa constrictor that draped over the worker’s shoulders, others looked forward to holding the reptile, such as William Dietrich, who was visiting his sister during family weekend.

“I really like animals and this [event] seemed like a hoot,” Dietrich said. “I’m really excited to pet all the fun animals, especially the snake.”

On the back patio, the animals were a bit larger, featuring goats, chickens, ducks, a donkey and a pony. People were let into a wired pen where all the animals, minus the pony, resided.

In addition to the petting zoo, RAH had some animal-based crafts, including a painting project and making a stuffed animal. They served as great mementos for the evening as well as gave people something to do aside from petting the animals. For people like Moira Cunningham, a sophomore English education major, the crafts allowed her to enjoy the event without coming into contact with animals.

“It’s family weekend and my brother’s here,” Cunningham said. “I said, ‘Hey, let’s go to RAH. There’s a petting zoo. It should be fun.’ I really enjoyed the crafts since I’m allergic to animals.”

Catherine Brown, a junior English education major, brought her sister to the event, as she remembered the fun she’s had in years past.

“I went last year and I really enjoyed it,” Brown said. “This year, I heard they were having a fox and we thought it would be a cool event. They had a lot of interesting animals here.”

The turnout for RAH Gone Wild exceeded Marsella’s expectations. He estimated they had more than 300 people, many of them glad they could experience the zoo with their family.

One such student was Hanna Dietrich, a sophomore biomedical engineering major.

“It was great that RAH Gone Wild fell on family weekend because I could bring my brother,” Dietrich said, whose brother is the aforementioned William. “He loved holding and petting all the animals, especially the boa constrictor and the chicken that rode around on a pony.”

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