Mini-Noah's ark: Aurora kids meet animals at science camp

A North Aurora veterinarian brought a mini-Noah's ark of animals to an Aurora kids' science camp.

A dog, cat, two snakes and four mice were displayed by Dr. Abby Curiel, DVM, on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at Wesley United Methodist Church in Aurora.

The Aurora resident is an associate doctor at Randall Orchard Crossing Animal Hospital in North Aurora. She appeared with animals and two assistants on Biology Day, day two of a four-evening science camp at Wesley.

On days one and three of the church's inaugural camp, chemistry and aerospace experiments were conducted by Jim Merk, known as Wesley's resident "science guy." He is a retired science teacher from Jewel Middle School in North Aurora.

The free camp for 30 kids ages 4-12 opened with a free dinner at each daily session.

Veterinary technicians Jess Anthony and Kayla Brasch assisted Dr. Curiel, a Crystal Lake native.

In addition to dogs and cats, she also sees reptiles, small birds and mammals including rats, rabbits, hamsters, ferrets, hedgehogs, chinchillas and guinea pigs.

Dr. Curiel was lined up for the camp by her sister, Michelle Curiel of Aurora, camp coordinator and Wesley director of children and family activities.

Seated in a meet-and-greet circle on the floor of a third-floor meeting room, children were allowed to pet Dolly, the cat and two snakes. Four mice were displayed in a cage.

Star of the show was Dolly, 7, Dr. Curiel's rescued yellow lab who greeted kids and adults while on a leash held by her mom.

"Although I have a dog, I'm a cat person at heart" she admitted in an online biography. Four rescued cats she houses are Dexter, Benny, Winnie and Joey.

North Aurora veterinarian Dr. Abby Curiel, left, assisted by Jess Anthony, introduces Dolly, a rescued yellow lab at Wesley United Methodist Church in Aurora on Aug. 10. Courtesy of Al Benson

The camp closed on Friday, Aug. 12, with a celebration featuring photos of projects and an outdoor science-related movie.

Church teens and adults assisted at daily sessions.

According to Michelle Curiel, the camp originated from requests by kids who attended a summer arts camp by Wesley. Parents of campers expressed gratitude for the free program that included educational and recreational activities and free lunches.

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