Those of you who are familiar with my previous posts are probably well aware that I am passionate about animals; and that includes all animals. Among the many different things that I love about my work at Eastwood is the opportunity that it provides me to plan various programs for the branch. And as you might have guessed, my favorite programs to plan and host are animal related. Watching people of all ages being exposed to and educated about creatures that they would otherwise never come in contact with is a particular joy! And recently we had two such wonderful occasions.
The word “reptile” produces many emotions in people. To say that most of these are not very positive would be an understatement. Young and old alike are fearful of most reptiles, but especially so of snakes, lizards, and alligators due to the perceived inherent danger that they present. In the extreme, some folks are even afraid of looking at color photos of some reptilians, and making them do so produces visible anxiety. However, a lot of these negative feelings are irrational and based on misconceptions.
Hoping to dispel some of the inaccuracies surrounding this class of cold-blooded beasties, the Eastwood Branch Library recently hosted a program titled “What is a Reptile?” It was presented by Jason Preslar from Naturally Wild; a reptile rescue group. Jason, his wife Lindsay, and their young daughter were on hand to show the 120 plus people in attendance some very cool reptile exemplars including a red-eared slider turtle, a savannah monitor from Africa, a young American alligator, an alligator snapping turtle
(which can grow up to a hefty 200 lbs. and live 150 to 200 years), a terrestrial continental tortoise, and a Columbian red tailed boa constrictor. Participants were encouraged to touch most of the animals using the two-finger method, and while some did, a few found the idea to be a little too close and personal. Nonetheless, everyone found the program to be fun, educational and very enjoyable.
“A huge thank you to the 100+ people that joined us for hands-on learning at the Eastwood Branch Library in Kalamazoo! What a fun afternoon to end the month of July!” — Naturally Wild
The second animal program took place in early August. “Animal Adaptations” was presented by Dale Smart from the Cranbrook Institute of Science Organization for Bat Conservation in Bloomfield Hills, MI. He started out by explaining that just about everything about an animal is some form of adaptation, designed to increase the chances of that animal’s survival.
He then treated participants to some live animal examples. First was Mr. Ed, a 10 year old mega bat who sees in color, has a nose shaped oddly like that seen on horses with a bright yellow neck to boot! This particular bat is sensitive to noise, does not use echolocation , and is the largest bat to come from Africa. For contrast, Dale also brought along a big brown bat from Michigan, who does use sound waves to locate prey, hibernates 5 - 6 months out of the year and lives up to 40 years.
Next came Rocky, a very shy flying squirrel which can glide up to 200 ft. from tree to tree.
And finally, there was Autumn, the Great Horned Owl. She turned out to be a particular favorite of the audience; a gorgeous Michigan native species despite the fact that she was handicapped at an early age after contracting West Nile virus.
Since all these animals have an ability to fly (or glide as in Rocky’s case), it’s not surprising that time just flew by. The program came to an end and everyone departed enriched by what they had learned and satisfied by what they had seen.
Reptiles at Eastwood