Story Time goers took a walk on the wild side at Schuylkill Valley Community Library on June 20 when they were visited by a variety of unique, wild animals.
Travis, of Wallaby Tales and Traveling Zoo, brought a few of his select friends along and introduced them to the packed pavilion right outside of the library.
'I need you guys to be teachers,' he said. 'I need you guys to teach the animals that sometimes people can be nice.'
Travis explained that the animals that he had with him and the others at the exotic animal rescue where he works tend to come from either people who thought they wanted and could take care of an exotic animal or animals that were hurt by people in the past.
The attendees were ready to take on the task as earlier that morning the book for Story Time was one that focused on a kangaroo read by Kelly Jacoby, children's librarian.
On their best behavior, the children were quiet and sat still as Travis brought out his guests. The animals for the day included a chinchilla, a fennec fox, an African pygmy hedgehog, a skunk, an African porcupine and a wallaby.
'These animals that you're going to see today, they are not good pets,' said Travis. 'I give them a home when people don't want them.'
As he brought out each guest from their carriers which had a zebra print blanket over it, he joked about what animal he would be bringing out such as announcing that he had an elephant before bringing out the chinchilla and later an octopus, giraffe and tiger. The teasing and jokes delighted the audience resulting in plenty of laughs.
Not only did Travis show the animals to the group, but he also explained how the rescue came about getting them as well as information on how they defended themselves and special features they had such as the fur that covered the bottom of the fox's feet to help prevent burns from the hot sand in the fox's native environment. A volunteer was even used to play a fox so that Travis could go through the warnings and way a chinchilla would defend itself from larger predators.
The audience did jump when Travis demonstrated the last line of defense that the skunk has which he used a small squirt of water to cause fear in the audience. He also joked about the porcupine being difficult to get back into her carrier, after demonstrating her love of corn by even placing a cob in his mouth that Charlie the porcupine gently took and nibbled on, saying that he needed someone to give her a push on the back. When hands shot up throughout the pavilion he reminded them exactly what they just raised their hands for after being taught how porcupines defend themselves.
The last guest was the wallaby which the attendees had the chance to see hop around as Travis kept a hold of the tail, which is used much different than that of a dog or a cat and therefore made for a perfectly safe leash for the day.
At the end of the morning, Travis thanked the audience and hoped that they enjoyed the animals and learned more about them. Then the children had the chance to give the chinchilla a gentle and quick pet.
This program was just one of the many summer reading programs happening at Schuylkill Valley Community Library. For more information and upcoming events, visit www.berks.lib.pa.us/svcl.