News ItemZooniversity at Sims
Jul 27, 2008 –
by Tracy Chesney, Waxahachie Daily Light
A 7-foot-long boa constrictor made its way upstairs at Nicholas P. Sims Library on Wednesday morning.Don’t worry, though. The snake was part of an exhibition sponsored by Zooniversity, a teaching zoo that educates children about exotic animals.
As part of the library’s summer reading program, zookeeper Allison Blankenship showed off six exotic animals to a packed crowd of children who oohed and awed. Zooniversity visits 65 libraries every summer and puts on an estimated 500 shows per year. “These are rescued, exotic animals,” she said. “We give a permanent home to rescued animals and, today, the children got to meet six of our special animals.”
When Blankenship showed off a Tanzanian giant black millipede, the children giggled when she said it can curl up like a roly-poly. However, the millipede had nothing over Ellie, the boa constrictor. “Ellie was found by a police officer in Irving,” she said. “He found the snake in a cage in the corner of a garage. The snake had been left there to die for more than a year. The officer brought her to us so that we could take care of her.”
The children also met Goliath, an African burrowing bullfrog; Licorice, an African pygmy hedgehog with 7,000 spines on its back; Tasha, a 3-pound North African fennec fox with oversized ears; and Keera, a joey wallaby who was born in Red Oak. “Keera stayed in her mother’s pouch for seven months, but, during a storm, her mother tossed her out of her pouch, which is a normal protective response. But the mother never came back to get her,” Blankenship said. Keera, who is small enough to fit into a mid-size purse, stole the children’s hearts. Eight-year-old Amy Cockerham, who got to hold and pet Keera, had a few words to say about the experience. “She kept tickling me with her nose,” she said.