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Animal attraction

Oak Crest teams up with Maryland Zoo for monthly live TV program

Created date

May 25th, 2010

There are dog people. There are cat people. Then there s Ruth Pundt a kindhearted woman with an affinity for all creatures great and small. I just love animals! says Pundt. That is precisely what got her into Zoomobile, a monthly program showcasing creatures from the Maryland Zoo on Channel 973 WOCV TV, Oak Crest s in-house TV station. I know a lot of the people down at the TV studio, says Pundt, who lives at Oak Crest. They know I m an animal lover and asked if I would be interested in hosting a show about animals, with one warning: I would have to be comfortable around snakes, crocodiles, and a variety of creatures. Of course, I said I would love to! For the past 13 years, Pundt has been hosting the show along with Kathy Hogue, a zoo volunteer who brings creatures from the Maryland Zoo to Oak Crest s TV studio. Together, they discuss traits of the different animals. For example, Hogue brought a red-footed tortoise, native to South America, on set and pointed out that males have a spur under their chin to hook rival males and flip them onto their backs during competition for mates. They can live more than 50 years, and the zoo s traveling tortoise, Jake, is going on 25.

Walk on the wild side

According to Hogue, more than 60 animals from the zoo are eligible to travel with the Zoomobile. We ve had everything from alligators and penguins to sloths and snakes on the show, she says. But Hogue notes that while most animals in a species share common characteristics, each individual has his or her own personality. You have to be ready for anything, she says, as she recounts some more memorable instances. Once we had a pigmy goat relieve itself on the leather sofa on the set. Another time, I was explaining how owls cough up pellets, kind of like how cats do furballs, when our Eastern Screech-Owl coughed up a pellet. It just doesn t get better than that. That s the joy of working with animals!

Zoomobile Live

Tameka Wilson, TV Production Coordinator at Channel 973, says Zoomobile is the station s most watched program. In fact, the popularity of the broadcast spurred a live show held in Oak Crest s on-site auditorium where invited guests can get up close with the animals. Zoomobile Live gives people the chance to touch and see the animals firsthand, explains Pundt of the interactive event now in its third year. Kids are invited to the show, and we bring them up on stage to pet the animals and ask questions. It s really been a wonderful thing to have here at Oak Crest. Bob McKeever attended last year s Zoomobile Live with his five-year-old grandson, Matthew. Matthew is not one who exhibits a lot of outward emotion, says McKeever, but during the show he was transfixed on each animal. He got the opportunity to pet the alligator, and afterwards when I asked him if he liked the show, he simply nodded yes and smiled at me. The next Zoomobile Live is tentatively scheduled for Friday, October 22, 2010, at 2 p.m. in Oak Crest s Town Center auditorium.