Every summer, the children of Phoenix attend a variety of camps like Phoenix Zoo’s “Camp Zoo,” but this is the only camp where they will see a lion up close — one would hope.

However, the 1,200 animals are not the only entertainment the zoo has planned for kids this year in its all-new curriculum. Games, hikes and art projects fill out a robust schedule.

Activities during the camps include storybook safaris and animal art for kindergartners, animal anatomy and habitat lessons for first- and second-graders and an animal exhibit designed for fifth- and sixth-graders, as well as a Q&A with a veterinarian about animal care.

Curriculum for seventh- and eighth-graders focuses on zoo operations, conservation, and veterinarians discussing their line of work. This includes learning how to do basic pet care, dental and exams.

Banfield Pet Hospitals will be presenting “FutureVet” sessions with information on what it’s like to be a veterinarian and how to become one. Banfield has been working with the Phoenix Zoo for the past three years, along with four other zoos and 11 museums, to teach kids about taking care of pets. Kids also get to talk to a veterinarian about what being a vet is like and how to become one.

FutureVet also works with a group called Pet Partners, which brings licensed therapy dog teams to perform demonstrations for the kids. The kids get to witness a checkup firsthand and even perform one, if the dog allows.

Dr. Lisa Rempel, a veterinarian at the Banfield Pet Hospital in Mesa, has been doing the presentations for a few years now and says that they are a great way to get kids interested in veterinary medicine. She said that Banfield’s deep commitment to preventative pet care is a reason they want to educate children on the subject. So, even if a child does not want to become a veterinarian, specifically, they can learn to take care of their own pets.

Last summer, more than 1,000 kids attended Camp Zoo. The camp spans eight sessions from June 2 to July 25, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some restrictions do apply to sessions for some grades. Kindergarten is a half-day session only and seventh and eighth grades are full-day sessions only. Extended sessions lasting until 6 p.m. are available as well.

Campers are provided with a shirt, hat, water bottle and lanyard. Important things to bring include good shoes for hiking, sunscreen and lunch, for full-day campers.

“Expect a really good mix of in and out,” said organizer Dean Watanabe. Be aware that campers will be spending time outside and walking around quite a bit.

More information can be found at www.phoenixzoo.org, under “Camps & Programs” in the main menu.

• Trevor Godfrey is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

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