Tarantula and Bug Petting Zoos Help People Conquer Fears
These unconventional zoos teach people about arthropods by letting them interact with them.
Petting zoos usually give people a chance to interact with animals that they already think are cute, like baby goats.
So when Andrine Shufran shows up to U.S. state fairs with a menagerie of tarantulas, cockroaches, and scorpions, it tends to freak people out.
Some people “come up to the table and scream—like, literally scream—and run away,” she says.
The fact that these critters make people nervous is actually the reason that Shufran, an entomologist at the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension, decided to start her traveling Insect Adventure petting zoo. Visitors to the petting zoo at its home in Stillwater, Oklahoma, or the many places it travels to around the state get a chance to hold the animals that often make