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Creepy crawlers help spark imaginations at O’side library

OCEANSIDE — A parade of snakes, bugs and reptiles visited Civic Center Library on Oct. 29. Children learned about the food, shelter and habits of these scaly creatures from education specialist John Taibe of Radical Reptile and Friends.
“They bring an assortment of insects, spiders, snakes and lizards,” Marie Town, children’s librarian, said. “Kids can hold and touch animals from different environments. They always like that. It’s different and it’s fun.”
The goal of Radical Reptile and Friends is to educate children on animals. The children are taught interesting facts and cautioned about running into animals in the wild.
“We want kids to have fun and enjoy their first encounter,” Taibe said. “It’s like bringing a zoo to you.”
Taibe and his business partner Ben Hian have more than 100 different animal species that they bring on the road to introduce to children.
The largest animal they bring is Vince, a 20-foot tiger python.
The heaviest animal in their collection is Homer, a 100-pound African spur thigh tortoise, who is now retired from being shown.
Great consideration is given to the animals that are brought out to meet children. If an animal has shed, or ate something it will take a few days to digest, it is not brought out.
Some animals are top crowd pleasers.
“Older children are more into the larger, more dangerous animals,” Taibe said. “Middle school girls like the cute baby turtles.”
If you ask Taibe which animal is his favorite, he cannot pick just one.
“With one I’m amazed at its camoflage,” Taibe said. “The next I’m impressed at just how massive it is and the amount he can eat.”
While up-close time with theses animals is safe with supervision, Taibe said the most important lesson he wants to teach children is to respect animals in the wild.
“They’re made to defend themselves from dangerous humans,” Taibe said. “You can’t go in the backyard and catch a spider.”
Town said the library has plenty of books on animals for young readers whose interest is sparked.

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1 comment

promise_news November 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Animal handler John Taibe said the more parents freak the more kids like the bugs and reptiles.

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