Cat Tales debuts new 'touch and learn' exhibit - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Cat Tales debuts new 'touch and learn' exhibit

Posted: Updated:
SPOKANE, Wash. -

There's an exciting new experience happening in north Spokane. 

You've probably been to Cat Tales before, but there's one group of people who haven't been able to enjoy the zoo to their full potential. Fortunately, that's changing.

Seeing a wild animal up close is one of the most exciting moments you can experience, and zoos bring that moment to life. 

Thousands of people visit Cat Tales every year to come within feet of a lion, tigers, a bear, and plenty of other "oh my" unique creatures. They got a new bobcat about three months ago, and one of the white tigers arrived last year.

But what if you couldn't see those beautiful animals? Suddenly Cat Tales might not be as exciting until now.

Ryan Wyche, Zoo Director & Senior Keeper) "We're celebrating the opening of our new touch and learn exhibits for people to be able to come out and just kind of get a little hands on experience," explained Ryan Wyche, the Zoo Director and Senior Keeper. "We've got a variety of different replica skulls, claws, whiskers, fur samples."

Wyche says he's been wanting to do this for years, and he found the inspiration from the inland northwest lighthouse for the blind.

"We have guests come out from time to time who are visually impaired, and they can be able to hear about the cats and hear the cats make noises," Wyche said. "So it's especially nice to have an opportunity like this that we can present to them to be able to get an idea of what a tiger would look like, in so far as how large it is, or what the fur feels like."

Lighthouse Director of Public Relation and Development Greg Szabo, who's visually impaired, was the first to touch and learn.

Stepping into the new display, Szabo picked up a 2 foot long matted clump of fur.

Wyche explained to him "That is actually a dread from the lion's mane, they don't brush their hair very often, so they'd get mats forming, and that's from one of the lions we had here at the zoo."

Szabo's reply, "awesome."

Through the exhibit, Szabo realized a parallel to his own life. He learned tigers use their whiskers to measure the width of a space, to figure out if they'll be able to fit through it. Szabo says his cane serves the same purpose for him.

Going through the touch and learn center, he says the new exhibit will change the Cat Tales experience for blind people like himself.

"Coming out and getting an idea of tactically what the furs feels like," Szabo explained, "what the skulls are like, that's really a neat and wonderful idea for people to take advantage of that. I think it's an awesome idea."

Even for people who aren't visually impaired, the small zoo is hoping the touch and learn center will help more people connect with what they're doing -- rescuing wild animals from all over the world.

"One of the biggest things people always ask out here," Wyche told us, "is can I touch the cats? Can I pet them? Obviously that's not safe for that to happen, but this is a way for people to be able to get an idea of what that experience might be like."

Cat Tales is actually running a special through the month of February -- admission is just $5 for everyone, so you can go check out the touch and learn exhibit.

If you want to learn more, but you can't make it up there, Cat Tales is also launching a Facebook live zoo chat, every Saturday morning at 9 o'clock. You just have to "like" the Cat Tales Facebook page

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Health advisory issued for Fernan Lake

    Health advisory issued for Fernan Lake

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 7:25 PM EDT2018-07-18 23:25:34 GMT
    Panhandle Health DistrictPanhandle Health District

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - Panhandle Health District (PHD) and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have issued a health advisory for Fernan Lake. PHD is urging the public to use caution when recreating in or near the water. Water quality monitoring confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae. Blue-green algal blooms have the potential to produce dangerous toxins in areas of the lake. 

    >>

    KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho - Panhandle Health District (PHD) and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have issued a health advisory for Fernan Lake. PHD is urging the public to use caution when recreating in or near the water. Water quality monitoring confirmed the presence of cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae. Blue-green algal blooms have the potential to produce dangerous toxins in areas of the lake. 

    >>
  • Cooling hot spots and strengthening containment lines top priority on Upriver/Beacon fire today

    Cooling hot spots and strengthening containment lines top priority on Upriver/Beacon fire today

    Thursday, July 19 2018 1:23 PM EDT2018-07-19 17:23:40 GMT

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Firefighters on the front lines of the Upriver Beacon fire are making progress on the 115-acre fire that started Tuesday evening.  Megan Hill, Public Information Officer for the fire, tells KHQ the fire is 20 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

    >>

    SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Firefighters on the front lines of the Upriver Beacon fire are making progress on the 115-acre fire that started Tuesday evening.  Megan Hill, Public Information Officer for the fire, tells KHQ the fire is 20 percent contained as of Wednesday evening.

    >>
  • Spokane man facing involuntary manslaughter charges

    Spokane man facing involuntary manslaughter charges

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 10:52 PM EDT2018-07-19 02:52:50 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A judge has picked the jury for the trial of a man charged in the deaths of three people who died in a 2016 boat crash on Lake Coeur d'Alene, but the start has been delayed. Wednesday, both the prosecutors and the defense were hoping to begin opening arguments, but they are still tied up in motions that have delayed the start. The jury was selected in the case for Dennis Magner, but they were asked to leave while both sides continue their motions. 

    >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - A judge has picked the jury for the trial of a man charged in the deaths of three people who died in a 2016 boat crash on Lake Coeur d'Alene, but the start has been delayed. Wednesday, both the prosecutors and the defense were hoping to begin opening arguments, but they are still tied up in motions that have delayed the start. The jury was selected in the case for Dennis Magner, but they were asked to leave while both sides continue their motions. 

    >>
HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • APNewsBreak: Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

    APNewsBreak: Dolphins anthem punishment includes suspensions

    Thursday, July 19 2018 4:57 PM EDT2018-07-19 20:57:57 GMT

    Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week.    The "Proper Anthem Conduct" section is just one sentence in a nine-page discipline document provided to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the policy who insisted on anonymity because the document is not public.

    >>

    Miami Dolphins players who protest on the field during the national anthem could be suspended for up to four games under a team policy issued this week.    The "Proper Anthem Conduct" section is just one sentence in a nine-page discipline document provided to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the policy who insisted on anonymity because the document is not public.

    >>
  • Hayden man arrested for hate crime following fight with youth pastor

    Hayden man arrested for hate crime following fight with youth pastor

    Thursday, July 19 2018 4:33 PM EDT2018-07-19 20:33:15 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - On July 12, officers responded to a large fight at a Coeur d'Alene McDonald's. Court documents say a Hayden man was charged with battery and malicious harassment, which is considered a hate crime in Idaho, following an investigation by police.  When officers arrived on scene, the fight had broken up, but witnesses were interviewed at the scene.

    >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - On July 12, officers responded to a large fight at a Coeur d'Alene McDonald's. Court documents say a Hayden man was charged with battery and malicious harassment, which is considered a hate crime in Idaho, following an investigation by police.  When officers arrived on scene, the fight had broken up, but witnesses were interviewed at the scene.

    >>
  • Watchdog urges EPA to bolster oversight after Flint crisis

    Watchdog urges EPA to bolster oversight after Flint crisis

    Thursday, July 19 2018 2:52 PM EDT2018-07-19 18:52:48 GMT
    The Michigan Legislature has unanimously approved $28 million in additional funding to address the lead contamination of Flint's water.The Michigan Legislature has unanimously approved $28 million in additional funding to address the lead contamination of Flint's water.

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water systems in the wake of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan.    The EPA's Office of Inspector General says in a report that the agency must take steps now to be able to react more quickly in times of public health emergencies. 

    >>

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water systems in the wake of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan.    The EPA's Office of Inspector General says in a report that the agency must take steps now to be able to react more quickly in times of public health emergencies. 

    >>