Future Reflections Convention 1999, Vol. 18 No. 4

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What Is A Sensory Safari?

by Tracy Duffy

Reprinted from the Buckeye Bulletin, Fall 1998, a publication of the NFB of Ohio.

Editor’s Note: Tracy Duffy is an active member of the Ohio Capitol Chapter. She regularly attends National Conventions. The Sensory Safari is an event which many people look forward to seeing at the conventions. Here is what Tracy has to say about her experience:

For several years the Safari Club International has hosted an event at our National Convention known as the Sensory Safari. For those of you who have never attended this event or perhaps have never heard of it, I will describe it in some detail and hope that you will be moved to attend it in the future.

The Safari Club International is made up of people who enjoy collecting animal hides and mounted animals from hunting trips in which they have participated. The members of this group are also generally very knowledgeable about the various animals and can tell you something about the behavior and habitat of each animal on display.

The Sensory Safari is a means through which this knowledge can be shared with blind adults, blind children, and their sighted family members and friends. Blind people have the opportunity to touch and explore the hides and mounts and to learn about each animal as they are doing so. This experience affords blind people the opportunity to gain up-close knowledge of animals they would otherwise never have the chance to examine.

Picture of Karl Adams handling a stuffed lynx. (19876 bytes)
Karl Adams (MI) takes his time to investigate
a lynx at the Sensory Safari.

Sighted people can go to the zoo and see lions, tigers, bears, and much more. Obviously blind people can’t touch such animals and therefore only know about them through models or from descriptions given by others. Sensory Safari gives them the chance to touch such creatures.

This past July I went through the Sensory Safari and took my sighted son with me. He is only three years old. It was fun to be able to touch the animals and to share the learning experience with him. This year’s collections included bears, wolves, alligators, a porcupine, mounted fish, and more. Have you ever had the opportunity to place your hands on a wolf that has his head back and is howling up at the sky? Have you ever felt a porcupine, and did you know that it has a fine hair over each of those sharp quills we hear so much about? Do you have a clear idea of how tall a black bear stands or just how large an elephant’s foot is? Do you really know how big the common squirrel is? I learned all of these things on my tour.

I encourage each of you to take the opportunity to go through this exhibit at the National Convention or to attend local events which may be coming to your area in the future. There have been some discussions of inviting local chapters of Safari Club International to do such exhibits at schools or other public places in order to expose even more blind people, especially children, to this experience. I found it very enlightening, and I’m sure that you will too.

Karl Adams (MI) takes his time to investigate a lynx at the Sensory Safari.

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