Summer readers hear of exotic animals

Errin Stiles of Tanganyika Wildlife Park holds up Sophie, the park?s albino ferret. A bearded dragon lizard, an albino ferret, a tortoise, an armadillo and a cockroach made guest appearances in Hillsboro as part of the library?s summer reading program.

Representatives from the Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Wichita showcased the small animals July 17 in the Hillsboro Elementary School Community Center.

Erinn Stiles, education curator, talked about the different kinds of living creatures as Elaine Sisco, co-chair of the volunteer organization, held each one.

Despite its formidable name, Stiles said the bearded dragon lizard is a social animal.

?He will bob his head and the skin on his chin turns back (when he is wanting to be friendly),? she said.

Elaine Sisco shows how an armadillo curls into a ball to protect itself from predators.The park?s albino ferret, Sophie, has no color in her fur or eyes.

?Sophie is sleepy right now,? she said. ?She sleeps 18 hours a day because when they are awake, they go, go, go.?

Benjamin, a 10-pound tortoise from Africa, could weigh as much as 250 pounds when he is full-grown, according to Stiles.

?It will take him 10 more years to be full-grown, and he will live to be about 80,? she said. ?Right now, Benjamin is 5 years old.?

Jordan, a South American armadillo, is one of the smallest with only three bands on his back. Stiles said most armadillos in the U.S. are larger and have nine bands.

?Being one of the smallest armadillos, he can curl up all the way up in a ball when scared,? Stiles said. The mammal can cover his head, tail and back so that all a predator will see is his shell.

Probably one of the ugliest creatures, though, was the Madagascar hissing cockroach.

?This is one of my favorite animals to talk about,? Stiles said, ?because out of the 3,500 different kinds of cockroaches, there are only 35 that get into people?s houses.?

In addition, only a few of them cause problems.

?In the wild, these type of cockroaches will almost never see people,? Stiles said.

As for the summer reading program, Delora Kaufman, children?s librarian, said the first- through fifth-grade students logged some 19,420 minutes of reading.

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