Over the weekend, residents at Mountain Park Senior Living in Ahwatukee were able to enjoy the Phoenix Zoo’s outreach program; “Zoo to You,” in the center’s dining area with their family members.

The “Zoo to You” outreach program is designed to visit various locations around the Valley such as senior homes and schools.

During the hour presentation, residents from Mountain Park Senior Living were provided information about the animals shown by Outreach Specialist Tippy Jackson, who was accompanied by different animals from the zoo ranging from a Gray-Banned Kingsnake, African Burrowing Bullfrog, Burrowing Owl and a Desert Tortoise.

“We have fun. I like to make that connection and to see people’s reaction. I hope to inspire people to care for nature,” Jackson said. “A few people today were touching a snake for the first time in their lives, and you just can’t compete with that.”

Residents showed excitement with each animal being presented, and were able to pet both the Desert Tortoise and the Gray-Banned Kingsnake.

“The residents here love going out on outings and they’re very active, and when it’s spring we try to find as much as we can do outside,” said Michelle Major, director of fun. “A lot of the residents have been wanting to go to the zoo, but it’s really too hard of a walk for them.”

Major began working with a resident’s daughter, Marcy Singerman, who volunteers at the Phoenix Zoo to bring a portion of the zoo to Mountain Park Senior Living.

“We told everybody to invite their grandkids, their great grandkids, so it makes it an intergenerational family event,” Major said. “It creates memories for the whole family.”

Aside from creating memories with their family members, Major said the event played an “education role” for some of the residents who aren’t native to Arizona and were unfamiliar with some of the animals.

“They love to learn about Arizona,” she said.

Resident Vinnie Bendix shared the experience with her church family from Bridgeway Community Church.

“We are just delighted when a program like this comes out and entertains us,” Bendix said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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