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Teaching Kids about Animals

While most kids are indoors playing video games, 9-year old Enzo Monfre can be found outdoors observing bugs, hedgehogs, and other critters that are native to his Texas backyard. It’s not that Enzo doesn’t like video games; on the contrary, he enjoys them. He just prefers to be among nature.

Enzo and capybara on Enzoology

“Animals are really cool, and some are weird in a cool way,” he explains. A few of his favorites are insects, snakes–such as pythons, constrictors, and anacondas–and hedgehogs. Enzo prefers playing with his pet hedgehog over the game Sonic the Hedgehog. According to his dad, Pete, “Enzo has been, some say, obsessed with science ever since he was three.”

Exotic Pets
He grew up with dogs, fish, and frogs. He describes his pet hedgehog, Spike, as sweet and cuddly. “There’s a difference between cuddly and furry,” says Enzo. “Spike is almost a year old, and if you hold him right and are wearing gloves, you can cuddle with him.”

His other pet is furry. Rosie’s a Chilean Rose Hair Tarantula. “It’s one of the most common types of tarantulas,” says Enzo. “It gets its name from its home and from its color.”

Home Schooling Allows Time for Teaching
Enzo, who is home schooled by his parents Heidi and Pete, loves teaching others about animals. He currently has an online TV show called Enzoology that’s both entertaining and educational. He got the idea a few years ago while watching a praying mantis in his backyard. “Our yard opens up to the woods,” he says. “We have a ton of creatures back here. A few night’s ago, I saw a fox. We get visits from possums, raccoons, lizards, and other creatures. I saw one that looked like an alien. It was a praying mantis. I picked it up and started talking about it like I was on TV. My dad grabbed the camcorder, and that was our first show.”

Sharing A Love for Animals
In addition to having his own online show, Enzo gives talks with live animals to children at schools, museums, and community centers. “Most of his knowledge comes from watching shows on National Geographic or Discovery Channel,” says Pete. “He also has an extensive library of reference books, and Heidi and I have been reading to him since an early age. We also use the Internet to fill in any gaps in knowledge and to check facts. Recently the University of Texas and NASA has started working with Enzoology to provide even more science and research.”

“He’s not a genius,” says Pete. “It’s just that he has an enormous appetite for this kind of knowledge. He’s a bright kid who works really hard. He definitely surprised John Abbott, PhD and the curator of Entomology at the University of Texas, with his knowledge. There was an event with all these entomology people, and John was there. He was quite impressed with Enzo.”

So now the University of Texas’ entomology department (along with Herpeton Exotic Pets, The Dallas Zoo, and Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge) loans Enzo insects and other animals for his show. The other animals are caught (and later released) in Enzo’s backyard. “We also have friends who happen to own large snakes and other folks who simply love Enzoology and offer to have us feature their critters,” says Pete.

Enzo’s goal is to spread the word about animals and nature, and has plans to be an astronaut/entomologist when he grows up. In the meantime, Enzo hopes to get more kids interested in science and animals by continuing to tour and talk about animals and by recording more episodes of Enzoology.

Enzo with Rosie, his pet tarantula

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