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Solana Vista Elementary gets visit from the critters

SOLANA BEACH — When SeaWorld’s animal ambassador team set out to help first-graders at Solana Vista Elementary School dispel myths about some spooky or misunderstood creatures that live in and out of the ocean, the first order of business was explaining to the mostly 6- and 7-year-olds what that meant.
With appearances by Dozer the anteater, Taro the porcupine and Clyde the water monitor, students learned the truth about how and why some animals attack.
For example, most of the youngsters believed porcupines discharge their quills to ward off danger. When Taro was brought out, SeaWorld’s Jennifer Miller had them clap as loud as they could to scare the animal but no quills were ejected.
Miller explained that porcupines back themselves into potential prey when they are scared. Maria Baldes explained that most creatures only attack when they feel threatened and oftentimes their behaviors benefit the world around them.
The Oct. 27 visit was part of SeaWorld’s commitment to education and wildlife conservation. During the 30-minute assembly, Baldes discussed misconceptions about sharks by comparing different jaws, Miller “decorated” first-grade teacher Carole Preece with Madagascar hissing cockroaches and Daisy, a black vulture featured in the park’s dolphin show, took a few brief flights around the room.
The students also enjoyed meeting a pumpkin princess, a flamingo known as Agnes Featherworth and Bling the goldfish, costumed characters portrayed by Cait Graham, Janet Paraiso and Alan Sopher, respectively.