MIDDLEBURG — The libraries of Snyder County turned into a temporary zoo on Tuesday.
ZooAmerica, based in Hershey, brought "Paws, Claws Scales & Tales" to the Middleburg Community Library, Beavertown Community Library, McClure Community Library and Rudy Gelnett Memorial Library in Selinsgrove. Students and parents learned about the adaptations animals use for survival in the wild – including defense, foraging, eating, swimming, and escaping predators.
"Today's society is losing a lot of their nature," said ZooAmerica education specialist Patrick Miller at the Middleburg location. "We are growing up and forgetting what could potentially be living in their own backyards. The purpose of these programs is to educate people about what they have living in their own areas, clearing up misconceptions surrounding those creatures and even teaching them a new appreciation for those animals.
Miller introduced 22 children and 10 adults to a gopher snake, a chuckwalla that's also known as a pancake lizard, a Harris's Hawk, a skunk and an alligator. He spent nearly an hour at each library before moving on the next and finishing up in Selinsgrove.
Miller said his favorite adaptation comes from the hawk and its sharp talons to catch its prey.
"Before he can even do that, he needs to be able to see it," said Miller. "Having eyes like a hawk allows them to see six times better than us. He sees things further, he sees things easier."
Martina Waver, 10, of Kreamer, said she loved the alligator because it had scaly skin.
Her mother, Judy Weaver, said she and her family love the library because they have good programs and learning tools. Deb Burns, of Middleburg, who brought her great-nephew Jace Jenkins, 6, of West Milton, agreed with Weaver.
"They're wonderful," Burns said. "It's educational and gets kids interested in things like nature. It helps continue their education during the summer."
ZooAmerica hosts these educational sessions for libraries, schools, scouts and other organizations throughout the year.