SPRINGFIELD, NJ - Saturday July 28 at the Springfield Free Public Library, young children and their parents got an up close at a wide variety of animals, insects, reptiles and amphibians.

Zoo Jersey, a company that runs animal programs throughout the tristate area was on hand to show the children the biodiversity of earth. The program started with a pair of insects, the tarantula and the emperor scorpion. During the show, Zoo Jersey Owner Danny Mendez demonstrated that when bathed in UV light, scorpions will actually fluoresce and glow a bright color. This is due to a chemical in their exoskeletons that produces the reaction.

The middle portion of the program featured a chinchilla, a cane toad and a snapping turtle. Mendez demonstrated the power of the snapping turtle’s jaw by having it punch holes in a cardboard card and had the chinchilla perch on the heads of some volunteers as he explained its natural habitat.

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The final part of the program featured two types of snakes. The Western Hognose Snake and the Honduran Milk Snake. Mendez walked both snakes around the room and gave parents and children the opportunity to pet both of them while he explained more about their habitat, diet and other aspects of their life.

After the program was done the crowd dispersed and went their separate ways. Adam Rothenberg, a Springfield resident was one of the people who came to the program. He was there with his wife and daughter. For Rothenberg, he said that everyone in his family enjoyed the program, and the chance to see some unique animals was something that he does not have very often.

“I thought it was very worthwhile,” Rothenberg said. “A good learning experience not just for our daughter, but also for us too. Not animals we see every day and so it’s very cool that Zoo Jersey was able to come out and inform us.”

Rothenberg also said that the Cane Toad was his favorite animal that was shown at the program.

And for Mendez, a trained zoologist who runs Zoo Jersey, getting kids involved in a hands-on way is a great tool for teaching them important points about conservation and getting them interested in protecting these animals.

“To me it’s amazing because it’s such an important opportunity to reach these kids in a way that’s going to affect them for life,” he said. “You show a kid a really positive experience with an animal early on, and they’re going to want to know more about that animal. If you teach them to really understand and protect these creatures in the future, that’s one of the best things we can do as far as wildlife conservation goes at the moment.”

For more information about Zoo Jersey, visit their website at zoojerseyanimals.com