On his eleventh birthday Rowan’s parents gave him the gift of a breeding pair of fallow deer which he named Elliot & Gazelle. He was immediately in love.
A year later on his twelvth birthday it was a pair of sika deer and then by a series of coincidences two African crested porcupines and a very tame coatimudi were also obtained within the next month. That was when Rowan decided to found what he calls ‘The New Trails Zoo and Wildlife Sanctuary’, a forever zoo whose mission it is to rescue and protect animals from all seven continents (those are his words by the way).
Within a week of ‘founding’ his zoo he had made signs for his four exotic animal species which included information on their diet, habitat and reproduction as well as their scientific name and protection status. He also educated us on what they liked to eat and together we designed a diet plan for them (including treats – a subject always close to Rowan’s heart).
In addition he started planning where the animals we haven’t gotten yet will live, how big their cages need to be and what cage decorations they will need. In order to do this we have visited five different zoos in the past month in order to get an idea on enclosure size for a range of different animals. In the process of these trips Rowan has learned how to calculate area (enclosure size) and volume (size of pool or water source required) and even invented his own measurement, the ‘scub’ - by the way is approximately five feet.
This is a classic example of kinetic learning - learning through movement and exploration. It is also an example of the power of intrinsic motivation in learning. Without the motivation of one day running his own zoo Rowan would not have been so eager to learn how to calculate area and volume. And by the way that’s not all he’s learned in the past month. He also mastered percentages, by figuring out how many melanistic versus spotted jaguars there are in the wild; force, by discovering the psi of the bite of the world’s top ten most dangerous animals, and the physics of flight by studying the wings of the birds he would love to one day own and protect.
A few weeks ago Rowan’s Mom said ‘When Rowan said he wanted to grow up to be a zookeeper I thought that meant he would work at a zoo one day, I should have known that what he really meant was we would open up our own zoo.’ Rowan’s dream is too one day breed endangered animals and educate people around the world on their plight.
And knowing Rowan’s ability to make his and others dreams come true that is exactly what he will do. Watch this space.