AVON-BY-THE-SEA— The Avon Public Library’s first Story Hour of the year had some special, scaly visitors at the Municipal Marina on Tuesday. Samantha Slevens, the Wildlife Educator from Zoophoria NJ and her reptile friends put on a show for an excited group of toddlers in the morning and a group of older kids later in the afternoon.
The toddlers’ show began with a reading of Dr. Seuess’s “Miles and Miles of Reptiles,” which introduced the kids to the different kinds of animals they would encounter.
Ms. Slevens riled the audience up with enthusiastic questions and information about reptiles and other animals before introducing the children to her “best friend in the whole world,” Hamburger.
Hamburger, a large king toad, left the children’s eyes wide as Ms. Slevens went around the room allowing the kids to touch him. She explained that Hamburger has a “resting grumpy face,” meaning that he looks mean, but is secretly a very calm and friendly animal. Hamburger had to be wrapped in a towel before being passed around due to his habit of nervous urination, according to Ms. Slevens. She also explained that he was originally from the rainforest before she gained custody of him.
The second animal Ms. Slevens revealed to the room discouraged a lot of the adults in the audience, but left the children unfazed. Miss Maisey the rat squirmed in and out of Ms. Slevens hands as she explained to the room that although Miss Maisey is a mammal because she has fur, she is a common food for most reptiles. After the children got a chance to pet Miss Maisey while their parents cringed, Ms. Slevens placed Maisey in a small wicker chair because she “is a lady.”
After putting Miss Maisey back in the large box of creatures, Ms. Slevens took out the next unusual pets; Boo and Hiss, two Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Ms. Slevens explained that in 50 years humans might resort to eating cockroaches as they have 10 times the amount of protein than beef. This fact was met with a disturbed groan from the adult audience members.
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