NUTLEY, NJ - Hundreds of elementary school children had a scheduled play date with Toby, Jupiter, Spike and Jellybean yesterday (Thursday, August 16) at the Nutley Public Library. No, these new pals weren’t humans, they were reptiles!
Rizzo’s Wildlife World from Flanders, NJ, hosted a special gathering at the library as part of the annual Summer Reading Program. The kids got to experience the exotic species and creatures up close and in person.
Special visitors included Jupiter the Bearded Baby Dragon, Spike the Snapping Turtle, and a small African Ball Python named Bumblebee. The Ball Python is a species found in sub-Saharan Africa. Like all other pythons, it is a non-venomous constrictor.
The kids then met a Caiman named Toby. The Caiman is a large aquatic reptile found in the swamps and tropical rivers that cover Central and South America. They are most closely related to alligators and crocodiles.
The presenter was Miss Jesse, a Wildlife Educator who graduated from the University of Delaware majoring in Animal and Food Sciences with a minor in Wildlife Conservation in 2015. Since then she has been pursuing her love of animals, conservation and wildlife education.
The grand finale, which was accompanied by a huge gasp from everyone in attendance, featured a massive Constrictor Python named Jellybean. The eight-foot-long male is just a baby, however. He will grow to 17 feet in length. The females grow up to 23 feet long.
Much to their delight, the kids could pet the snakes, as both were non-venomous and seemed to love the attention.
The end of summer event was presented by The Friends of The Nutley Public Library and was open to kids registered in the Summer Reading Program.
“We are happy to have again sponsored our summer program for children and this event was a part of it,” said Barbara Hirsh, President of the Friends of the Nutley Public Library. “We are able to offer these programs and events by hosting a few fundraisers, and one of our bigger fundraisers is at Barnes & Nobel in November. We have a lot of events coming up in the Fall.”
Throughout the interactive storytelling session, the kids learned about the history and habits of the rescued and captive-born animals during the live demonstration. A nice treat for the kids after a fun-filled summer of reading.
“Last year, we had 711 kids participate in our Summer Reading Program, and this year we have 709 kids for the program that runs into September,” said Library Director Maria LaBadia.