(City of Pocatello Press Release, November 6, 2020)
One of nature’s smelliest animals is joining Zoo Idaho as an ambassador animal.
Recently, Pooka was turned over to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game who then took her to Zoo Idaho. Pooka the skunk originally hails from the Arco area and came to Zoo Idaho after being raised by a local family. While she was with the family, Pooka imprinted on humans, meaning since humans raised Pooka, she would have a hard time surviving if she was returned to the wild. She is now being cared for and trained by Zoo Idaho staff to become an ambassador animal.
“When we receive an animal that will become an ambassador animal, they receive special training to desensitize them to people, loud noises, different smells, etc.,” said Rachael Shearouse, Education Curator at Zoo Idaho. “Pooka is being trained for our education programs and we want to make sure she does not become stressed while conducting these programs. Ambassador animals are important tools for teaching the community about local wildlife and conservation issues affecting our ecosystems.”
Tentatively, Zoo Idaho staff plan to have Pooka join them at outreach events in the spring.
Zoo Idaho is an indigenous species zoo and is home to orphaned or injured animals from the region that would have likely not survived in the wild.
For more information on Zoo Idaho and their fall program schedule, visit zooidaho.org.