Outside The Children’s Museum in West Hartford, it’s quiet, but inside it remains as active as ever.
From groundhogs needing a snack to coyotes sharing their mood, hundreds of animals there and at their sister site, The Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton, still need the same care as always.
“In terms of care for animals, that hasn’t changed, but definitely the interaction with the public and making sure animals stay stimulated enough is really important for us now,” said Curator of Animals and Exhibits Nick Barnett.
Barnett says for the fifth oldest children’s museum in the country, educating kids is what it’s all about. That’s why they continue to create live and prerecorded classes along with daily animal demonstrations. It’s good for kids and for the animals.
“That first science lesson or being able to see an animal you’ve never seen before, that’s what inspires students of today to want to become biologists or conservationists or art teachers,” said Barnett.
But as the days drag on, the resources become thin. Barnett is only one of two employees not currently furloughed, and the bills keep adding up. The generosity of neighbors packed their fridge with food for the animals. Barnett says the support has been wonderful.
“We want to thank everyone who has been able to donate. We know times are really tough, but that’s what really does keep us going,” said Barnett.
Unlike other places, they can’t shut off the electricity while waiting to reopen. Habitats need to be maintained. They continue to rely on donations. Without them, they may face shutting down permanently. But Barnett says they have hope.
“There’s always hope. As much as things may seem really dark now, there is good in this world worth fighting for, and the museum is one of them,” said Barnett.
Because of everything going on, Roaring Brook Nature Center in Canton had to put their wildlife rehabilitation on hold. The spring time is usually when they’re at their busiest.
At the moment, The Children’s Museum says they have enough food donations but are hoping for monetary donations.