Nick holds Joby the alligator for the kids to pet.
By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Children and their parents recently gathered in the meeting room at the Medfield Library to learn all about some new animal friends. For an hour on April 18, the Medfield Library boasted its own ark of animals. Nick the animal handler brought a variety of critters with him, all of which got the children in the audience giggling and happy.
Children gathered on a mat so that they could be as close to the animals as safely possible. Their parents watched from an even safer distance in chairs. Nick the animal handler arranged all of the animal carriers in front of the mat. One of his animals, a tiny finch named Ceru, sat on his shoulder, ready for the show. “Why is he out of his cage?” one girl asked.
“Because he likes it up there,” Nick answered.
“Why does he have an ankle bracelet?” one boy asked.
“It’s like a dog collar, so if gets lost and somebody finds him, they can call me,” Nick answered. With all of their questions answered, Nick asked if everyone wanted a turn holding Ceru. All of the children were eager to take their turn holding the bird on one finger. Ceru was a bit more adventurous, and climbed on to the shoulder of one of the children.
As Ceru took his place back on his shoulder, Nick took out the next animal: Bob, a medium-sized tortoise. “Does anyone know what the difference between a tortoise and a turtle is?”
“A turtle lives in water?” one of the kids said.
Nick agreed and added: “Tortoises live on land in the jungle.” Ceru made his way off Nick’s shoulder, onto the mat, and onto Bob’s back. The children and their parents giggled at the sight of Bob and Ceru taking a leisurely stroll around the mat.
As Bob and Ceru enjoyed themselves, Nick took out the next animal friend. “This is Angel,” he said, holding a fluffy white and brown Himalayan mountain rabbit. Each child took turns petting Angel, as Nick taught them a catchy rhyme to tell predator from prey animals: “Eyes on the side, needs to hide. Eyes at the front, ready to hunt.” Afterwards, Angel took her own journey around the mat, hopping around, much to the enjoyment of the kiddie audience, which was probably oblivious to the irony of seeing both the tortoise and the hare in their library. Following the three animals' jaunt around the mat, Nick put Angel and Bob back in their carriers. Ceru returned to his favorite shoulder.
Nick then took out the next animal guest. “He’s a dragon, but not like a 'Game of Thrones' dragon,” Nick said as he took out Snout, the bearded dragon. Each of the kids got to touch Snout before Nick placed him on the mat and tried to convince him to move. Snout wasn’t too enthusiastic about moving around, however, and didn’t take a step until Nick was putting him back in his cage.
Ceru sat on Nick’s shoulder until Caramel came out of her carrier. Caramel the boa constrictor was happy to be out of her carrier, ready to take her own ride on Nick’s shoulders.
“How does she kill prey?” one kid asked.
Nick quickly explained that Caramel wraps herself around prey and squeezes it to kill it. “Probably shouldn’t do that, then,” the kid said, referring to Caramel’s position on her handler's shoulder. Everyone in the room chuckled. After each kid took a turn petting Caramel, Nick invited them kids to take a look at the markings underneath Caramel’s mouth.
The next animal in the room left everyone in silence. After putting Caramel back in her carrier, Nick carefully took out Rosie the tarantula. “I used to be afraid of spiders until I met Rosie. Now she’s my favorite spider,” Nick said, encouraging all the kids to touch the tarantula. Parents were much more reluctant to pet the spider, no matter how friendly Nick claimed she was.
A crowd favorite was Banana Bean, a crested gecko. “He looks like an alien,” said one of the children with a laugh. Nick agreed. He pointed out the features of the intergalactic-looking reptile, including his lack of tail. “He lost his tail,” said Nick, moving to a door in the room “but he doesn’t need it.” Bean jumped right onto the glass of the door and began scaling it, like a well-trained mountaineer. The kids all laughed as Bean jumped from Nick’s hand on to his shirt.
Both parents and kids were pleased by Nick’s fantastic presentation of animals. From a cuddly rabbit named Angel and Seymour the chinchilla, to cold-blooded reptile friends Caramel the boa constrictor and Bean the Gecko, the kids left the library excited about the animals. All of the kids and parents left with favorites.
But all could agree that Ceru was funniest.