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December 24, 2013

Critters invade Christmas week in Jeffersonville

Library program brings animals to kids

JEFFERSONVILLE — Franklin went after those greens like presents on Christmas morning.

The African spurred tortoise came to the Jeffersonville Township Public Library on Monday with five of his friends for the Holiday Safari presented by Animal Tales.

Between Jabba the giant African bullfrog, Jeeves the Argentine tegu and others, Alena McMillan, 10, Jeffersonville, said she couldn’t pick a favorite. But her mother, Latonia, said she had fun checking them out, too.

“It’s for all ages and she’s been looking forward to this since she found out about this,” Latonia said. “It was entertaining for me as an adult, too.”

About 110 children attended to see all of the animals, including Franklin.

John Hamm, naturalist with Animal Tales, a Mayfield, Ky.-based animal education organization, had children select a present from a tree that contained a clue about what animal he brought with him. He said hopefully, they’d learn a little about the creatures they saw and seek more information.

“The perfect thing about having this in a library is they see the animals, get curious and then have us encourage them to check out a book about them,” Hamm said. “All of this is connected to other subjects, so they can take this experience and learn about all kinds of things on their own.”

Lori Morgan, youth service manager at the library, said animal books are always popular there, whether they’re fiction or non-fiction titles. But she said after presentations like this — which it’s held for three years — children really go after those books.

“I like to present things they might not be normally exposed to,” Morgan said. “It’s a hands-on program, they can grab a book about animals and learn more about them. Sometimes, this is the only experience they might get to animals like this outside of school.”

Rogue, a Harris Hawk, showed off a three-foot wingspan and can see the print on a business card from about 300 yards away, Hamm said. He also taught students that though they can find rat snakes in their backyard and they’re generally harmless, they should avoid touching them even if they know they’re not venomous.

Morgan said she’s glad these programs spark interest in children and having one at the beginning of Christmas break could help keep them fresh-minded for when they go back to school in a couple of weeks.

“A lot of kids at Christmas will ask for books,” Morgan said. “The biggest thing is that if they get a book for Christmas, they’re reading over the break and when they get back to school, the teacher doesn’t spend as much time to get them back on track.”

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Shelbe Dorman, right, and Taylor Wirth hug following their 2013 commencement ceremony at New Albany High School.

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