Feed the Fish program educates kids about animals

A new program at PetSmart is educating kids about a wide variety of pets, and giving them a chance to feed the store's fish.

PetSmart pet care manager

PetSmart pet care manager

A new program at PetSmart is educating kids about a wide variety of pets, and giving them a chance to feed the store’s fish.

Feed the Fish is a free family program which runs every Saturday morning at the store.

For about half an hour, kids learn about a specific pet under the guidance of pet care manager Chelsea Gumbley, and pet care associate Alyssa Boutilier. They’re taught about the animal’s origin, what sort of habitat they live in, what they eat, and their behaviour.

Afterwards, the kids get to feed some of the store’s different types of fish.

“What we do is we connect one-on-one with the parents and kids. We have this event every Saturday, they find out about the different animals, and then they get to feed the fish — that’s what gets the kids excited,” says store manager Rupi Parmar.

The store, which opened in the summer, started the nation-wide program early. Last weekend was the third week for Feed the Fish in Chilliwack, but it was the first week that it launched across Canada. This coming weekend, it’ll be running across North America.

“We wanted to test it out since we are new in the community. We wanted to see what people thought and what we could do differently,” says Parmar. “We are brand new so we have a lot to prove.”

It’s been successful in just the first few weeks. They’ve seen familiar faces every weekend as many kids have returned each Saturday.

“That’s what makes it fun is that they’re excited to come back and learn,” says Parmar.

All of the pets the kids learn about are sold in-store.

On the first Saturday, they learned about fish. The next week, it was guinea pigs.

“That went over really well with the guinea pigs, because it’s more hands-on,” says Parmar.

This past Saturday, kids were educated about red foot tortoises and bearded dragons.

“We could keep going for the next 30 weeks, and it would be a new pet each time,” he says. “As the seasons change, so do the animals we get in.”

In the summer and fall the focus is on pets such as Chinese water dragons, mountain dragons, tortoises, leopard geckos, and chameleons. Birds like parakeets, quaker parrots and conure parrots are popular in the winter months. And in the spring, they move into goldfish, tropical fish, and rodents.

“On a Saturday morning it’s hard to pull kids away from cartoons and extracurricular activities,” he says. “A lot of times the parents are more excited. For us the biggest thing is to have that excitement on both levels.”

So far, “it’s been a great response” he says.

Feed the Fish is a free one-hour program located at PetSmart in Eagle Landing (926-8249 Eagle Landing Pkwy.). It runs from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. every Saturday. Registration is not required. For more info, call 604-792-2362.