Tragedy turns into learning opportunity

By Tamie Meck

Tragedy turns into learning opportunity | Hotchkiss, Hotchkiss K-8,

Photo submitted Hotchkiss K-8 students were able to get a close look at a mountain lion after it was killed on Highway 133 the morning of Jan. 11. Mountain lions, also known as cougars, panthers and pumas, are among the biggest cats in the world.

Hotchkiss K-8 students were given a rare opportunity to study one of the biggest cats in the world. Early in the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 11, a female mountain lion was killed by a vehicle on Highway 133 near Hotchkiss. The incident was reported to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which picked the animal up.

Principal John Marchino said that CPW district wildlife manager Stuart Sinclair cleaned the cat up and brought it to the school and asked if students would like to see it. The middle school science class and most of the elementary students were able to examine its long, sharp claws, to see how big it really is, and were given an opportunity to touch it, said Marchino.

Students were told about the animal's habitat and nature and discussed safety issues. It was an interesting learning opportunity, said Marchino, and was provided in a non-structured format.

"They thought it was cool," said Marchino. He said the school would be interested in seeing other animals if the opportunity arises. As long as it ties in with safety and education, "Then that's fine," he said.