Wildlife Encounters wraps summer reading program

Julie Davis
Nebraska City News-Press

The 2021 summer reading program at the Morton-James Public Library concluded Monday morning with Animal Tales from Wildlife Encounters in Gretna.

Attendees were treated to visits from six animal friends--a three-banded armadillo, an alligator, a red-tailed boa constrictor, an African pygmy hedgehog, a kinkajou, and a red kangaroo--as well as animal-themed books to tie into this year’s theme of “Tails and Tales.”

Volunteers from the audience were asked to close their eyes and extend their hands to try to guess which animal they would be holding as each new creature was introduced. 

Wildlife educator Jillian Lenz placed five of the six animals in the children’s hands (she handled Peanut Butter the hedgehog without audience assistance) and asked the children to identify what they were holding sight unseen. 

She also asked the children to describe the texture of the animal’s coat to the audience before each received a quiet “finger-clap” round of applause for their efforts. 

Lenz showed the audience how to finger-clap before the first animal came out of its travel carrier to ensure no animals would be startled by loud noises during the program. 

Lenz matched a book with each animal during her presentation. Her suggestions were as follows:

For Tater Tot the armadillo, Willow the Armadillo by Marilou Reeder;

For Mr. Nubs the alligator, See You Later, Alligator by Sally Hopwood;

For Snickers the red-tailed boa, Disney’s The Jungle Book;

For Peanut Butter the hedgehog, When I Get Bigger by Mercer Mayer;

For Bungee the kinkajou (also known as a honeybear), Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne; and

For Chuck the red kangaroo, Pouch! by David Ezra Stein.

Jillian Lenz carries Peanut Butter the hedgehog around the Kimmel Gallery of the Morton-James Public Library during the Monday, Aug. 9, finale of the Morton-James Public Library’s summer reading program.
Bungee the kinkajou licks his lips after sampling a banana during the Animal Tales program by Wildlife Encounters of Gretna.
Jillian Lenz listens to a question from an audience volunteer while bottle-feeding Chuck the red kangaroo.
The Morton-James Public Library concluded its 2021 summer reading program with a presentation from Jillian Lenz of Wildlife Encounters from Gretna.
Jillian Lenz of Wildlife Encounters explains to the Morton-James Public Library audience that three-banded armadillos like Tater Tot are the only one of 21 armadillo species that can roll themselves into a ball when threatened.
Jillian Lenz shows the audience where Mr. Nubs the alligator’s nostrils are located during Monday’s program at the Morton-James Public Library.