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Animals at the Children’s Center Enjoy Their ‘Vacation’ Homes

Bunnies, Birds, Fish, Tortoises Find Temporary Shelter During Pandemic
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During the spring semester, 136 children spent at least part of their week at Cal State Fullerton’s Children’s Center before “stay-at-home” orders arrived from the governor’s office. Yet there are some permanent (and dearly loved) residents at the center who had no other home to go to — namely Kelso and Tripod (two desert tortoises), four smaller turtles, Cha Cha and Bunny Foo Foo (two rabbits), 11 cockatiels, and fish from five different tanks.

What would happen to them?

They are now in temporary “vacation” homes where they continue to receive care and thrive. 

“It was very sad for us to close the center,” said Lydia Palacios, director of the Children’s Center. “We see the children and parents as an extension of our family. But the closure was very calm, and we knew it had to be done for the health and safety of everyone involved.

“The families know the animals well, and I knew some would be interested in helping us care for them.”

Palacios sent out an email seeking temporary homes. Staff members who know how to care for the animals were asked first. Then the center’s families were asked if they could help. All the animals got placed, except the fish. They are being fed through vacation timers and periodic check-ins.

So far, the animals are all doing well in their “vacation” homes. 

“I feel fortunate to be surrounded by such a supportive community, including our staff and families,” Palacios said. “They have volunteered to ensure our animals are safe and well-cared for until they can return to their permanent homes at the center.”

Contact: Valerie Orleans,