By Baya Ginsburg
Walking in, several things can be spotted. Leafy green plants, an unmoving tarantula, several colorful betta fish, leftover material from the chicken the greenhouse used to contain, and a bright green veiled chameleon, almost lost within the giant leaves. But this is no zoo. No, this is room 142, the bio room in East Greenwich High School. One of the newest members who joined us in mid-January is Paul, a female chameleon who is given free range around the greenhouse. But how did she come to EGHS?
Former student Abby, who still has siblings here, had a roommate who adopted Paul from Petco. Not knowing whether Paul was female or male, they took a wild guess, calling her Paul. At first, things went great. As Abby put it, “When Paul was healthy, she loved hanging out on my head. She also loved climbing anything she could get her hands on.” But sadly, things started to take a turn for the worse.
Since they lived in Vermont, attending Killington School of Resort Management, the winters were extremely dry. A tropical species, veiled chameleons are not built to last in this type of weather. Even with efforts to make things better for Paul, with Abby even installing humidifiers and using plastic bags to try to lock the moisture in, Paul did not shed properly, lost weight because of stress, and even started to turn black. Knowing the chameleon was in trouble, Abby and her sister Lauren contacted Mr. Wren and Mr. Rath, hoping to find a better place for Paul.
Now, fast forward to today, and Paul is doing much better, surrounded by as much humidity as she wants and plenty to snack on. According to Mr. Wren, the teachers actually don’t do much work. Instead, the zoology students do. “Zoology students have a chore list and rotate every two weeks to feed and water plants. They weigh her, take her out, make the air humid.” Though Paul is greatly benefitted by this change of scenery, she actually helps us a bit, too. With a diet of insects, and plant fertilizing scat, Paul has great potential to make the greenhouse a better place.
Both the fish and the chameleon are low maintenance animals, with most of their needs met by the zoology students. Another thing they have in common is the fact that they all need someone to go home with during the summer, as long as they meet some requirements. Even if you are not a zoology student, you can still interact with these animals and even bring them home. Paul is often held by those in room 142, and has become a beloved pet, adored by everyone. And even more importantly, she is now an adored pet with all requirements met!