Fundraising earned Glacier Ridge Elementary School a visit from an armadillo, penguin, Amur leopard and other wild animals last week.

Fundraising earned Glacier Ridge Elementary School a visit from an armadillo, penguin, Amur leopard and other wild animals last week.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium visited the Dublin elementary school as a reward for students who have raised money for conservation for eight years.

"It all started because the school mascot is a tiger," said Nicole Mathew, a PTO member.

"We used to adopt tigers and now we raise money for tiger conservation."

The PTO helps arrange the annual Tiger Trot that lets students walk to raise money for the tiger conservation.

"You can tell they empty out their piggy banks for this," Mathew said.

"We get a lot of pennies," Mathew said.

"The kids are really into tigers," she said. "They wear a lot of tiger shirts."

The school mascot was the star of the show last week, waving and dancing for the students, until the animals from the Columbus Zoo came.

Students were excited to see the baby Amur leopard as it drank from a bottle and giggled as a penguin waddled across a table set up in the front of the gym.

The event served as an educational tool; zoo staff told students the Amur leopard is one of the most endangered cats in the wild and the fennec fox uses its large ears to locate scorpions to eat in the dessert.

"They started this last year," Mathew said.

"They bring great animals in and teach them about the animals."

The visit from the zoo isn't the only educational aspect of the Tiger Trot, though.

"We walk to the metro park across the street," Mathew said.

"Students start at the school and walk to a halfway point at a play area and walk back," she said.

"It's probably a mile total. There are different points on the walk where we have representatives from different countries tigers live in ... .

"Students had a passport this year and when they walked to different countries they got a stamp. At the last stop at the school they got a Popsicle. It's fun even though they raise money."

Teachers also used the love of the school mascot to get in some lessons in the class- room.

"Teachers are teaching about conservation and tiger conservation," Mathew said.

"There's tiger trivia on the morning announcements."

This year students raised about $2,000 for tiger conservation.

Since the effort began in 2006, the school has raised a little more than $15,000, Mathew said.

"We don't keep any of it," she said. "We give it all to the zoo for the tiger conservation program."