Article and Pictures by Coleen Lou
As part of Epstein's hands-on science program, each classroom in the elementary school has pets, many of them are exotic animals. Each year since the classroom pet program began, Avian and Exotic Animal Veterinarian, Jason Hutcheson, DVM, owner of For Pet's Sake, The Avian and Exotic Animal Hospital of Atlanta has visited and donated his time to give Epstein's special animal friends a check-up.
"Doc Jason," as the students have come to know him, came to perform health examinations on our special members of the Epstein family, see how they have progressed in their development, and be sure their habitats and diets were safe and appropriate. The good doctor answered questions from the children and spoke to them about the various animals and their behaviors, instincts, proper nutrition, proper handling and what signs to look for that might indicate a potential health issue for the animal.
Dr. Hutcheson examined a leopard gecko named Stumpy (Mrs. Natalie Toporek and Mrs. Keren Ben Haim's 2nd grade class), who is getting on in years and is estimated to be around 13 years old. Stumpy, is also disabled as a result of an injury he received prior to his arrival at the school in battle with a predator that caused him to loose one of his legs. Epstein students understand that taking care of injured animals is a tzedakah and a privilege.
He also examined a king snake named Bandit and a box-turtle named Houdini (Mrs. Jackie Pierce and Mrs. Miri Sternberg's 3rd grade class), and a rose-haired tarantula named Rose (Mrs. Donna Goodson's and and Mrs. Mali Barak's 4th grade class). All received a clean bill of health, except Stumpy who needs to see Doc Jason again due to a circulation problem he is having. Even our friends in the animal kingdom understand the joy of youth! Dr. Jason will be returning from time to time to provide his professional guidance to the students on the care of their classroom pets, and to be sure they maintain optimal health.