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Heaven Can Wait Youth Group Gets Hands On At Nearby Zoo

Written by Keely Biggs

Say we see an end to the pet overpopulation, animal cruelty and abandonment problem in Las Vegas in our lifetime; that means we can just stop worrying about it and move onto something else… right? Wrong! The issue is something that will have to be fought and maintained forever. Kim Yates has recognized this. As a co-coordinator of the Heaven Can Wait Youth Group, she has created a way we can pass on the torch to the next generation.

I met with Kim at the Roos n More Zoo in Moapa, Nevada on May 5th where she and a team of about 18 kids ranging from 12 to 18 years of age came to shadow the animal handlers for the day. Experiences like this expose the kids to the animals and give them an appreciation that they would never receive by reading about them in a book.

The kids got a chance to learn about the animals, take the reins and present the animals to the guests at the zoo.

Volunteer Alissa shows a guest how to hold an armadillo.

This is just one of the many activities that can be expected of the group. Coordinated with Kathy McCarty, the youth group was started about three years ago. The group is open to anyone, between the ages of 10 and 18, who lives in Clark County. The group meets monthly and also participates in the feral cat clinics held by Heaven Can Wait. It is a great opportunity for kids that want to get involved or for parents that want to expose their kids to something meaningful. The group is educated about the importance of spaying and neutering and also receives an appreciation of animals in general through activities such as this one. The members are encouraged to educate their peers, families and fellow students, which also builds leadership skills.   

As a teacher herself, Kim believes that the pet overpopulation crisis is not going to be cured in our lifetime and that we need to raise our children to understand what is necessary to solve the problem. Kim teaches at John Dooley Elementary School and is soon moving to Bob Miller Middle School. Apart from teaching, Kim encourages her students to get involved and give back to the community in any way they can.

The 18 kids participating at Roos n More were considered the “regulars” but Kim says she has over 100 kids that are involved on and off. This is the second year the Youth Group has visited Roos and, as popular as it is, they will most likely make this a yearly event. After speaking to many of the volunteers, including Kim’s own son and daughter, Lindsay (16) and Jesse (12), I was envious of the opportunities they receive at such a young age and the inevitable lessons that come with them. I spoke with youth volunteers Kim (17) and Jose (18) who were making their rounds. Both are grateful for the opportunities they get with the youth group. Kim said she was looking forward to going to vet school after she graduates.

Volunteer Kim Creech (17) looks forward to going to vet school after graduating.

Roos n More was founded by veterinarians, Drs. Jay and Valerie Holt.  They started out with 15 kangaroos and wallabies. Now the zoo currently houses over 160 different animals including Capuchin Monkeys, a toucan, lemurs, otters and my personal favorite: a Tamandua anteater! People can expect to physically interact with almost all of the animals. The veterinarians believe this makes a more lasting impression for visitors. When people can see, touch and smell the animal, they are compelled to learn more about it and conserve its natural habitat. This is a very important feature considering that 35 to 40% of the animals at Roos n More are labeled as either threatened or endangered.

Roos n More is a non profit organization that only employs one person. The rest of the help is volunteered. The zoo is run purely on donations and is open to the public twice a month. The zoo is also available for outreach programs, private parties and tours. If you are interested in visiting or volunteering for Roos n More, you can visit their website at www.roosnmore.org. If you or anyone you know might be interested in getting involved with the HCWS Youth Group, you can find out more information at www.hcws.org.

The youth group finished their day watching otters take a dip in the pond.


2 Responses

  1. Keely,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful Blog. You are an amazing writer. Thank you so much for joining us for our 2nd Annual Animal Enrichment Day at The Roos-N-More Zoo. The HCWS Youth Group and our own dedicated Volunteers at the Zoo make this day one of our most cherished Zoo Days of the year!

  2. Nicely done, Keely! I enjoyed reading your well put together piece highlighting both Roos n’ More and the Heaven Can Wait Youth Group! Thank you for coming out and spending the day with us!

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