Future Reflections Winter 1992, Vol. 11 No. 1

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SENSORY SAFARI

[PICTURE] Teenager Liz Haveux of Pennsylvania is fascinated by the Sensory Safari gazelle

Editor's Note: How does a gazelle's horn differ from, say, that of mountain goat? Of course we can find ways to satisfactorily explain these differences to a blind child, but wouldn't it be nice if the child could actually get his or her hands on the real horns, and discover the differences for themselves? Children and adults—both sighted and blind--had that kind of opportunity at a special display of stuffed animals at the 1991 National Federation of the Blind National Convention in New Orleans. The volunteers from the Louisiana chapter of the Safari Club International (which had put the display together and sponsored the project) were helpful and informative, and not in the least patronizing. They gave information about the animal and its environment, pointed out interesting features, or just stepped aside and let the individuals explore on their own, if that was what was wanted. It was this respect, as well as the quality and selection of stuffed animals, which made this display such a big hit at the convention. Here is an article about the Sensory Safari which appeared in the local paper during the convention.

SAFARI PROJECT LETS BLIND SENSE ALL BUT DANGER

by Seth Schiesel

[PICTURE] Parent Barbara Freeman gently guides her daughter's- Shanti's- hand over the spiny back of an alligator

Nancy Moulle has never seen a lion, an elephant or a bear. She also has never seen a rabbit, a cat or a dog. Nancy, 8, of Monroe, is blind.

Born four months premature and only 8 1/2 inches long, Nancy's optical nerves don't work. She can't tell the difference between the darkest night and a sun-drenched New Orleans afternoon, except by the heat she feels on her skin.

A "sensory safari," developed by the Louisiana chapter of the Safari Club International, a group of conservation-minded hunters, let Nancy go exploring.

The program, which ran Sunday and is open today from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., lets the visually impaired explore and feel stuffed and mounted animals collected by local Safari Club members.

Organizers are hoping hundreds more visually impaired children and adults, in town for the National Federation of the Blind's annual convention at the Hyatt Regency, will participate.

The exhibits include an alligator; a lion's head; an elephant's foot, tooth, and tusk; the skulls of a leopard, hippopotamus, and Cape buffalo; the skin of a 12-foot python; a fox; a mountain goat; a gazelle; an American turkey; a black bear; and a moose head.

Louisiana chapter president John Jackson said the dozen local members turned out not only to educate others about the wildlife the group pledges to conserve, but out of a sense of community, and he hopes to make the sensory safari an annual event.

"They can't look at pictures or watch a documentary and this way they get to see how the animals actually look," said Detroit chapter President Bob Easterbrook, who created the program. "And it doesn't matter who we do it for. We can do it at schools, because kids are so curious."

"I thought some of (the animals) were a little too real, but I liked it because I don't get to see animals like that too often," said Travis Roth, 11, from Dorchester, Nebraska.

The safari's appeal stretched across age boundaries. Mark Harris, a young adult from St. Louis, Missouri, said, "I enjoyed it because I didn't realize before what all of these animals actually look like. I've been to museums but nothing like this."

Nancy's sighted brother Nolan agreed, saying, "Here the sign says `please touch' instead of `please don't touch.'"

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