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swimming together since they met."
Stories about the animals and their envi-
ronment are enthusiastically shared by
the 200 volunteer docents who are, like
Slovis, frontline educators.
In 1977, as the philosophy of zoos
changed and the zoo recognized the
need for education, the docent program
was formed, says Sue Kingsepp, manager
of volunteers at the zoo. Docents show
people around the zoo for free and also
are stationed as gallery guides and zoo
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit,
nursing homes and the Detroit Public
"The kids today are very smart," says
Stein, who practices by giving her grand-
children tours of the zoo. "I swear, that's
why my grandchildren are so smart," she
To continue to challenge and interest
especially its young visitors, the zoo has
several recent additions in operation. As
a leader in technology, the zoo created
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The zoo rescued Barla, who now lives in the largest polar bear facility in the country.
the program for the wild adventure sim-
ambassadors who are age 18 and older.
The zoo has a total of 800 volunteers,
A motion-based cabin holds 30 people
including 350 gardeners, she says.
a time. With the aide of a wide screen
The docents, however, not only teach,
digital surround sound, you move
but continually learn.
and hear like an animal, says Dr.
A dentist by day, Larry Freedman of
Bingham. Farms has been educating chil- Kagan. "We transform you into dol-
phins, owls and cougars."
dren about animals and their plight
This project is part of how the zoo is
since 1992. "Humans cause many animal
leading the way in interpreting the rela-
species to become endangered," he says.
tionship between humans and animals,
"By educating visitors to these problems,
he says, which is also explored in the 10
we hope to create responsible world citi-
films sponsored by the zoo and shown
in the zoo's Wild Life Interpretive
Working at the zoo also afforded him
an opportunity of a lifetime. A couple
The most-recent film, produced by
years ago, Freedman went to Namibia to
Oscar winner Sue Marx of Birmingham,
help rescue 25 cheetahs — his favorite
will feature James Earl Jones narrating
animal — that were eventually healed
From Show Boats to Life Boats, about the
and released back into the wild. 'An
evolution from using animals as
unbelievable adventure," he says of the
entertainment, once popular and now
program he learned about through the
considered cruel to animals.
With so much available at the zoo, the
Marion Stein of West Bloomfield vol-
docents can help guide visitors to make
unteered at many institutions over the
their choices. As docent Slovis sees her
years, including Congregation Shaarey
"I want to get kids excited about
Zedek, and as a volunteer probation
natural environment, get them ask=
officer at Southfield district court. But
ing questions and share in the magic of
once she came to the zoo, she remained
for 19 years.
For information on the zoo and
"It's a constant learning process," she
anniversary events call: (248) 398-0900
says about working at the zoo.
Stein leads school tours, as well as out- or visit the Web site:
reach programs at places like the Jewish