Sep 252011
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Zoology Club President Anton Morrison and other group members crammed into their cars Saturday morning for the biggest club field trip in the organization’s history.  As they peeled out of the university’s parking lot for their 20-minute journey, some grew hot and bothered.

“Most of the younger students were excited,” Morrison said.

The 26-member group was on its way to the Rabbit Creek Emu Ranch.

The ranch, located north of Fort Collins, recently hosted Zoology Club members eager to learn about emu wrangling, emu feather consistency and emu oil extraction techniques.

“We petted the emus and took a lot of pictures of them. We also were taught how to catch them, and what sorts of uses emus have and why they’re ranched,” said Alli Follett, a sophomore biology major and first-year organization member. “We’re going to hopefully make a plaster caste of an emu footprint on Sunday and head back to the school.”

The nearby ranch owners allowed the Zoology Club to camp out in a section of their extensive property on Saturday night. Rabbit Creek, run by Linn and Terry Turner since 1995, tend to 11 emus and several chicks for the purpose of selling its oil and meat. They educate interested locals about the animal, too.

“We go to see the incubation chamber and where the chicks grow up,” said the group’s treasurer, Kathryn Archer, recalling the tour she and others took of the facilities.

Archer also remembers stalking an emu into a corner in learning how to wrangle the bird to prepare it for transportation.

“Sometimes they kicked about a bit, but it wasn’t all that terribly hard. They’re fairly light birds,” she said.

The club’s recent trip was the latest in a series of activities that the 20-member group organized to educate themselves on animals. For meetings, they frequently invite zoology experts from the Denver Zoo and the city aquarium who lecture them on a variety of topics like the science of a dog’s receptive senses.

“One of the speakers that we invite is Brian Jones –– he’s a physics teacher,” Archer said. “It’s actually really fascinating when he comes. It’s really interactive because he brings a lot of toys for us to play with.”

But not all group meetings are rooted in such intricate subjects like how an animal sees and hears.
“There is the occasional meeting where we just hang out and play games on someone’s Wii,” Archer said.

Justin Reeves, the group’s advisor, said the Zoology Club is unique to CSU. In his experience, colleges and universities typically don’t have the organization on their campuses, making their activities also something of a rarity.

“One of the things they often do in their meetings is bring animals to their meetings,” he said, recalling a day in which puppies were brought to one of their gatherings and allowed to roam freely and play with group members. “It was a stress relief thing.”

But aside from trips to the area emu ranch, discussions on the physics of an animal’s senses, Wii competitions and puppy play dates, what really sets the group apart is their sincere interest in the subject of zoology.

“I’m really impressed with how independent and active the club is,” Reeves said. “The only thing they utilize me for is paperwork and that type of thing. In my opinion, that’s how a club should go. It should exist because the students want it to, not because I want it to.”

Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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