Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tiger Tiger

Tiger cubs Zhihui and Zhixin

Tigers are pouncing out at us from almost every corner. It’s the build up to The Year of The Tiger. Tigers cavort and carouse, pivot and prance, dally and dance, looking so cute, who can resist buying whatever they’re being used to sell. We’ve been regaled with how ferocious tiger women are, goodness knows what the men are like, and other assorted tales, not of tiger, but what tiger symbolizes.

Through the deluge of tiger tiger, no column has related any facts about the actual animal being paraded. No items have cautioned to the possibility that in the next Year of The Tiger (12 years from now), there will be fewer tigers, if any, left.

These facts were the subject of CTEP’s MAD lesson on Tigers on 7 Feb 2010. It was a relief – finally some real tigers. The slide show cum talk had the children wide-eyed with wonder as they displayed many not known scenarios of the tiger – tiger swimming, tiger with cubs, tiger on snow, etc. A video with some rare scenes of a real tiger with its cubs followed. The children then transformed themselves into little tigers roaring around as they put on tiger masks which they had colored. The sad part, how tigers are killed for almost everything they have, their skins, tails, teeth, claws, meat, you name it, some mad human being wants it. The children were taught they had to do their bit to keep tiger around, to never eat tiger, or buy anything that once belonged to tiger. They had to spread this message around, especially since only very few are doing it.

By Talking Tiger

Drawing of tiger by Zhihui (aged 6)

Firdaus and Qisti colour their tiger masks

Bengal Tiger Panthera tigris tigris

All photos by Vilma D’Rozario

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Critters in their Cribs

This pitcher plant is a cosy crib for a Four-lined Treefrog. (Photo by Andrew Tay)

Sometimes you wonder how different we really are from animals. CTEP’s MAD lesson on critters and where their home sweet homes are was about how every living thing needs and has a home. Nature Educator Andrew showed real examples, some alive, while Vilma slide-showed some beautiful and dramatic photographs, to about 15 children on Sunday 24th Jan at the JBCG. They were then taken for a walk through the gardens with some of the children going wild to discover red ants, butterflies, and other critters. And critters are? As defined by the children in attendance, fast, small, little, cute things, and so they are. Some examples: Flying squirrels, bats, dragon flies, spiders, slugs, snakes (yes, them, too), ants, butterflies, cockroaches, carpenter bees, pangolins, potter wasps, cave centipedes, etc, etc, and they all live in houses custom made, such as tree hollows, root caves, mud cribs, etc. The lesson was another demonstration of CTEP’s specialty, a skilful selection of enough information to keep the kids all agog (and some of the parents, too), alongside some value added educational gains, of stimulating the kids to think through their answers to certain questions, developing their spontaneity as they got excited to answer Andrew’s questions. As you sleep in your crib tonight, join God’s critters.

By Talking Tiger

Mad lesson on Monkeys: What the monkeys taught me

Long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis) are native to Singapore.

Sunday 16th November 2009
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

We use the term monkey for mild misdemeanours, usually of the impish variety, and attributed to small children. Example, a house guest might apologize sheepishly for her child ripping your teddy bear’s ears off with Oh he’s such a little monkey, isn’t he. What would real monkeys think of this? Where did this negative comparison spring from? There are monkeys who do misbehave. The Penang Botanic Gardens has cases of monkeys who have attacked children, stolen food, destroyed car upholstery. But the CTEP MAD Lesson on Sunday 16th showed the monkey side of the story. Monkeys get up to monkey tricks because humans do. We feed them killer food like potato chips ignoring signs that state clearly DON’T. We poke and prod them with tree branches. We tease them with food withdrawing it when the monkey approaches. MAD’s lesson highlights the fact that monkeys just want to mind their monkey business. If we destroy their homes, the trees and forests, where do you want them to go? If we take away their food sources, what will they eat? If we use them for cheap entertainment, do we really think they’ll sit back and enjoy it? Especially since they’re probably more intelligent than the adults who think it funny to aggravate them. MAD brought such lessons across using the talents of Andrew, CTEP’s naturalist educator, with CTEP’s very own Vilma assisting, but the top attraction that day was the bonus performance by Vilma’s trainee and graduate teachers from the National Institute of Education with their story-puppet show. The whole lesson held 17 children (no little monkeys) captive, conveying a wealth of information about the monkey world with delightful variety. These children are all ready to make a difference with their knowledge about Long-tailed Macaques, Banded Leaf Monkeys, that monkeys are neither ape nor chimpanzee, they travel in troops of 30, use their tails for balance and hands to swing about. The most significant point the lesson made perhaps was that monkeys are human in their need to survive, keep their family together, eat, drink, and be merry. We don’t want anyone to take this from us, let the monkeys do the same!

By Talking Tiger


Andrew talking about the Banded Leaf Monkey with Tia assisting

Oscar’s (9 years old) monkey

Supermonkey, the superhero puppet that bridges communication between people and monkeys

Kids making a presentation on the Banded Leaf Monkey

A take-home message

Kid’s reflections