Dowagiac native returns home to showcase zoo animals to youth

DOWAGIAC — The Dowagiac District Library features many books about animals. On Friday and Saturday, some of those animals were on hand for all to see.

The library partnered with the Dowagiac Conservation Club to host a Zoo Animal Meet and Greet as a part of Dowagiac’s annual Summer In The City festival.

The meet and greets featured an assortment of animals from the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids. Children were able to meet the animals and ask animal expert Rhiannon Mulligan questions.

Friday’s animals included a black rat snake, Blanding’s turtle and striped knee tarantula while Saturday’s featured a Sonoran mountain kingsnake, a wood turtle and a curly hair tarantula.

According to Melissa Phillips, Youth Services Coordinator for the DDL, the event attracted more than 330 visitors to the youth area of the library, where the event was held.

“It was a huge success,” She said. “We’ve had so many new card applications the last few days. I’m glad that it’s been such a success for the library and it’s great for [The Dowagiac Conservation Club], too. Sometimes it’s a challenge for them to get new kids aware of what they do. This is a good way to get their name out there and bring nature to kids. 

“With this event being educational, it made perfect sense to have it here at the library.”

As the education programs manager for the John Ball Zoo, Mulligan hosts zoo tours and travels to schools across the state educating children about the wonders of the animal kingdom.

When she received a call from the Dowagiac District Library about having a zoo animal ‘meet and greet’ at the library, she couldn’t say no.

After all, she is a Dowagiac native.

“I grew up here,” She said. “It’s really fun and exciting to come back home and it was great to see a lot of kids and just share some different animals that they might not be able to see up close very often.”

“She usually doesn’t go out and do this,” Phillips said. “But when she saw a request coming from Dowagiac, she took it. I thought it was pretty cool, a ‘back to your roots’ kind of thing.”

After graduating from Dowagiac Union High School, Mulligan attended Michigan State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Zoology. She began working at the John Ball Zoo in 2006 and became the zoo’s education programs manager in 2011.

“I love seeing the kids excited to see the animals,” She said. “A lot of adults are nervous around animals but kids are just generally curious. It’s a good opportunity to get them closer with animals, interacting with animals and realizing that nature is really cool to be around.”

The meet and greet gave Mulligan the opportunity to check out the new-look library for the first time.

“It’s amazing,” Mulligan said. “It’s really exciting to see the new space. I was secretly kind of excited that we were up in the children’s section because I remember the children’s section from when I was little. I love that the community has this great facility to use in the city.”

Dowagiac

Medical event causes car to crash into Dowagiac Burger King

Cass County

Cassopolis man sent to prison on drug charges

Dowagiac

SMC recognized for turning students into citizens

Dowagiac

ETS program awarded grant from Department of Education

Cass County

Dowagiac man who broke elementary school windows sentenced to probation

Dowagiac

Changes to retirement benefits cause for concern among Cass County employees

News

Niles first ward residents ask for an end to gun violence in their community

Buchanan

Buchanan Area Senior Center raising funds to convert porch into sunroom

Cass County

Man arrested on drug charges in Mason Township

Cass County

Cass County Commissioners approve grant for Dowagiac River restoration

Business

Lyons Industries donates 12 thermal imaging cameras to Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department

Cass County

Niles man seriously injured in motorcycle crash

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: Sept. 13-14

Berrien County

Local emergency departments experiencing high volumes, wait times

Berrien County

Residents demand Berrien County commissioners take action on mask mandate

Business

Cassopolis hosts Cass County Leadership Summit

Business

Owners of vintage farm tractors invited to Under the Harvest Moon

Business

Edwardsburg welcomes new construction business

Cassopolis

Cassopolis organization to host walk honoring National Suicide Prevention Month

Business

PHOTO STORY: A-Mazing Acres opens for season

Buchanan

Niles teen builds Eagle Scout project on McCoy Creek Trail

Business

New short-term rental property group to offer guests ‘curated’ Dowagiac experience

Cass County

Two women injured in La Grange Township crash

News

Niles hosts town hall between community, law enforcement