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TOUCHING THE ANIMALS

Children’s animal books come to life at library presentation
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Leader photo by Carol Ryczek Kastle Zook, left, Otto Woods and Katie Woods encounter a hognose snake at a Zombie visit to the Shawano Public Library on Tuesday.

Kids, parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, animal lovers of all ages, skinks and dragons crowded together on Tuesday at the Shawano Public Library when staff and creatures from the NEW Zoo and Adventure Park paid a visit.

Over 100 children and adults were on hand for the presentation.

The NEW Zoo is located in Suamico, and just as the library has its bookmobile, the zoo has a vehicle to take its charges out to share. NEW Zoo educator Natalie Erickson, one of Tuesday’s presenters, said the vehicle is busy all summer, making up to four visits a week throughout northeast Wisconsin.

The presentation focused on invasive species — animals that humans bring into an area, sometime with disastrous results. One of the creatures, a Cuban tree frog, was introduced to Florida, and its size and appetite allowed it to outcompete the native frogs, the presenters said.

Although the lesson was about complex ecological systems, for the toddlers and school-aged children in the room, the focus, and the fun, was the opportunity to see and touch the animals. Volunteer Carol Dill and intern Brianna Moss pulled out tanks or pulled the creatures out of their cages and walked them through the crowded Ella Veslak Room so the children could see them eye-to-eye.

In addition to the frog, a bearded dragon, blue-tongued skink, hognose snake and a rabbit — part Flemish giant — were shared with the children.

After the presentation, the children and some brave parents lined up to touch the dragon, snake and rabbit.