Kids get up close, personal look at animals

OCEANSIDE — Boys and girls got an up-close look at more than half a dozen animals that usually only come out at night at the Mission Branch Library on June 28. The Wildlife Company brought an alligator, hedgehog, macaw parrot, hissing cockroach, fennec fox, prairie dog and carpet python to show to kids.

Crowd favorites were the fennec fox and alligator.

“Everybody just loves the fox,” Jessica Larios, director of Wildlife Company, said.

“She’s just charming. The alligator always gets the biggest reaction.”

The Wildlife Company brings a variety of animals on the road to show to school groups, librarygoers and day campers.

Jessica Larios, director of Wildlife Company Photo by Promise Yee

The Up All Night presentation was part of the library’s Dream Big summer reading program.

“We teach children the nocturnal jobs the animals are doing while we’re sleeping,” Larios said.

“It’s a unique experience,” Larios added. “We serve a lot of children who aren’t exposed to animals and don’t have an opportunity to visit the zoo. We want to model a positive interaction with animals and foster a desire to help take care of animals.”

Global conservation ideas were also shared.

“Our goal with a young audience is to give them basic ideas to help,” Larios said. “Recycling, not littering — simple, easy concepts make a big difference.”

During the presentation only Wildlife Company staff handled the animals. Larios said another goal of the animal education talk is to foster a healthy respect for animals.

“We don’t want to encourage children to want wild animals as pets,” Larios said.

Most of the animals the Wildlife Company houses and shares with children’s groups are rescue animals that an individual has illegally had as pet or that have come from other animal education facilities.

The mobile animal talks fund the costs of caring for the animals. The Wildlife Company speaks to more than 400 groups a year.

“The funds go straight back to animal care,” Larios said.

The Wildlife Company houses hundreds of animals at its site headquarters in Escondido. Animals on site include more than 50 different species and 20 different mammals.

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