Ribbets, roars and snores: Deaf children take in sounds of wildlife

Kids wander throughout zoo in annual Listening Walk

Justin Udo
May 20, 2018 - 12:29 pm
Clarke Schools' second annual Listening Walk

Justin Udo | KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The sounds of the Philadelphia Zoo came to life for a special group of kids.

More than 1,000 people, including many children who are deaf or hard of hearing, took part in Clarke Schools' third annual Listening Walk scavenger hunt at the zoo. 

"There's 10 posts setup throughout the zoo, and each family will go to the different spots and they'll listen for the different sounds," said Sherri Fickenscher, education support specialist at Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech. "Everything we do is about listening awareness."

The morning began with a 5K in the zoo. In the past, the event has helped raise more than $100,000 for Clarke Schools, the oldest and largest organization of its kind teaching children with hearing technology to listen and speak.

Thanks to listening devices, Fickenscher said the kids participating can now "live through listening" and experience the zoo in a way many of them never have.

"Maybe they'll hear a lion roar, maybe they'll hear water dropping," she said. "Everything we do is about listening awareness. It's experiences — that's how children learn best."

Caroline Linz's son Teddy, who is deaf but can hear thanks to his listening device, also took part in the scavenger hunt.

"It's significant because these kids are deaf and hard of hearing and without their listening devices, cochlear implants or hearing aids, they wouldn't be able to hear the sounds of the animals and the sounds around them," she explained.

Teddy, who particularly loves dolphins, added he's been looking forward to this day.

"I really like hearing the sounds," he said. "I feel really inspired to hear all these animals."

Jason Friedland also brought his two children to the  scavenger hunt, who both have attended Clarke Schools.

"The listening stops are really a wonderful way to experience the zoo in a different way," he explained. "You can not only experience the animals visually, but take a moment to listen to the way they communicate to each other."