Punahou has a long history of housing animals on campus, whether they’re pets of the School’s presidents or beloved classroom or campus friends. Chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles, birds, fish and other critters have long served as class pets in the Junior School, teaching kids how to care for them. Here are a few of the newest animal pals to join our Punahou ‘ohana, along with a closer look at our resident ducks.
Four sheep – three females and one male with no names yet – are now living on the slopes of Rocky Hill, foraging on various plants to support the photovoltaic panels placed there as part of Punahou’s Net Zero effort. The sheep help ensure that the panels aren’t obstructed, but they also welcome visits by Junior School students, who are learning about the symbiotic relationship between people and animals. “They’re hard workers and do a good job of eating almost everything they see in this area,” according to Outdoor Education faculty Andrew Nelson and Shelby Ho ’01 “The sheep love hearing about how kids are being nice to each other and other animals, and they love attention too.”
Punahou’s newest therapy dog, Cedar, has joined the Student Support and Wellness (S+Well) Department, supporting students at all grade levels. She follows in the pawprints of Moose, a sweet Golden Retriever who recently retired after eight years of supporting the Punahou community. Cedar, a trained therapy dog who knows more than 100 commands, is a “Goldador” (Golden Retriever and Labrador mix) from The Assistance Dogs of Hawaii. Her handler, Punahou Chaplain George Scott, says he’s seen the firsthand benefits in students when they come into contact with a therapy dog. “Dogs synchronize with people’s emotions,” he said. “They synchronize with joy or sadness and help dissipate raw emotion. They can turn a situation in another direction and give a person hope.” (Fun fact: Cedar and Scott share the same parents’ names, mother Ruby and father Sam. “A sign from God,” Scott says.)
Punahou has three resident ducks, all mallards, who were rescued in various parts of O‘ahu as ducklings. Maverick is 4, Blue is 2.5 and Sū Yong is 1.5. Nelson said Blue lays over 130 eggs every year, while Sū Yong was found floating on the ocean by a Punahou middle schooler during a storm. “Over the years, students have come to read to the ducks and help take care of them,” he said. “We use as an example to show proper treatment of animals.” Inspired by Maverick, Nelson and Ho plan to launch a nonprofit called, The Maverick Animal Alliance (maverickanimalalliance.org), with a mission to assist animals. On the website, there is a passage describing the connection to Maverick: “Separated from his flock as a duckling, Maverick remembers what it was like to be afraid, alone and without a family. This alliance represents the important relationship between humans and animals and provide opportunities to help animals in need. Maverick represents the sometimes misunderstood, loving, adventure seeking ‘under-duck’ in all of us.”