First person: Animal lover

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Hannah Luscombe can often be found at the zoo, where she is fostering her interest in animals. She wants to become a marine biologist.

Kevin Wilson

Hannah Luscombe, 9, of Clovis, likes to note that her first name is a palindrome.

“It’s the same backwards as it is forward,” said Luscombe, who was born in Lubbock but grew up in Clovis.

But her field of expertise isn’t linguistics; it’s zoology. Luscombe is a constant at the Clovis Zoo, and could be considered its unofficial tour guide.

Luscombe, who will enter fourth grade in the fall, goes to the zoo around 60 times annually — mostly with her grandmother, Susanne Estes, when Clovis Municipal Schools did “early out” Wednesdays.

The routine: Usually when we go to the zoo, we see the animals and we feed some apples to the horse, Mini-Me. We have vegetables, we buy them and we give them to the zoo (A local grocery store saves bruised vegetables for them, but they buy vegetables as well).

We sometimes skip stuff because it’s been really hot, but we try to catch as much as we can. I like the giraffe and hyenas. Oh, the white peacocks; they’re amazing. The zoo is lucky to have them because they’re very scarce. They’re albino peacocks; you can’t always see them in the wild.

There’s a new cage in the zoo that’s going to be for little Toodles, the skunk. He’s a little over a year old.

Her favorite animal: Mini-Me. His (original) owners first put them in the backyard with a German shepherd and he lost his eye because of that German shepherd. You shouldn’t put any kind of horse in a yard with a dog or any small animals.

As first, he was scared, but we grew to like each other and he’s a sweetheart.

When she grows up: I want to become a marine biologist. You have to swim a lot, know a lot about the sea creatures — know what they eat, what their habits are. You want to make them feel at home. It takes a lot of work.

Favorite movie: I’d have to say “Free Willy: Escape From Pirate’s Cove.” It’s about a young girl who goes to Africa and goes into the ocean and finds the orca everybody loves. People are trying to hunt down that whale.

Other favorite zoos: In Albuquerque, there was an aquarium that was great; there were sharks, dolphins, stingrays. That has to be my favorite aquarium in New Mexico. I like the Albuquerque and Roswell zoos too.

I’ve been to the San Diego Zoo; it is great, and I’d like to keep going back. You can catch rides (around the zoo). There’s a trolley, there’s a dragon ride, and there’s even a ski lift that gets you up to the goats and the other high (ground) animals live.