“We offer interactive hands-on experiences with exotic animals,” Wild Wonders Zookeeper/Educator Tamara Green said. Her programs emphasize conservation and recycling.
For Green, her job is the perfect dovetailing of her two passions: animals and children.
“The children are our future,” she said. “So if we can make an impact on them, they will help the animals and make the world a better place.”
The Wild Wonders show was part of the library’s Summer Reading Program, which has seen record numbers of readers signing up at all of its branches.
The wild animal show was so popular that latecomers were given the option of participating in alternate activities, after the room filled up.
“We’re a victim of our own success,” library Branch and Youth Services Coordinator Debbie Walker said. The library plans to evaluate adding programs next summer, should funding be available.
On Monday, kids enjoyed meeting Cesar, an iguana who was rescued from Ocean Beach in San Diego about seven years ago.
“Some kids thought it would be fun to light him on fire,” Green said. When rescued, Cesar was severely burned.
The burns took a year to heal, she said, but Cesar is now a popular member of the Wild Wonders family.
An absolute hit at the event was Kima the kinkajou, also known as the honey bear. The South American marsupial, which has a acute craving for honey, uses its prehensile tail while breaking into beehives. Its thick fur makes it unable to feel bee stings.
Green encouraged kids to recycle to save trees in the rain forest.
“That’s our important job,” she told them. “And if we can remember to recycle, we can help the animals.”
The show ended with a “Whoa!” as Gumbo the alligator made his appearance. Gumbo, at only 3 years old, was a manageable size for Green — but at his full size, he could grow to be 15 feet long.
Green explained that Gumbo and other alligators have a special, clear eyelid that lets them look around underwater.
All kids present got a chance to pet Gumbo.
Green cautioned them against petting anywhere but his tail, though.
“Our fingers look a lot like little hot dogs to them,” she cautioned, wiggling her hand in the air.
More Wild Wonders
Discover the exotic animals at other library events:
3:30 p.m. today, Corona Del Mar Branch Library
3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mariners Branch Library
10:30 a.m. Aug. 13, Balboa Branch Library
Kids Talk Back
What was your favorite animal today?
Rebecca Nguyen, 7
Katie Morrison, 2
Natalie Tassinari, 6
Griffin Stellhorn, 12