By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
On Tuesday morning, Nikolas Parent from the Curious Creatures Zoo visited the Dover Library to teach a crowded room of children about the various animals he'd brought with him.
The first animal Nikolas brought out was Lily, the red-footed tortoise. Parent set up a funny gag wherein he asked the children if Lily was going to be fast or slow, then said “we’ll see” when the kids all answered slow. Parent looked around the room like he was nervous about how fast the tortoise could take off, then yelled “3-2-1- go Lily!” and put her on the ground.
When she barely moved, the kids howled in laughter.
The next animal, Clay, was a lionhead rabbit from England. The rabbit's most notable feature was its “awesome hairdo that kind of looks like Einstein” - but it was another feature to which Parent wanted the kids to pay close attention. He asked if Clay was a predator or a prey animal, then explained that the easiest way to tell was to look at an animal’s eyes. If an animal has its eyes close together in the front of its head, it is likely a predator. Creatures with eyes far apart on the side of their heads, meanwhile, are typically prey. To remember this, Parent told the audience to remember the following rhyme: “Eyes on the side, meant to hide. Eyes up front, meant to hunt.”
Next was Blue, a bearded dragon named after the raptor from the “Jurassic Park” movies. Parent explained that he is a real-life dragon, but “doesn’t fly or breathe fire like a ‘Game of Thrones’ dragon.” Then, Parent noted that the bearded dragon lives in the desert, before asking: “So, if he lives in the Australian desert, what does he eat?” One kid answered tigers, another answered tacos, while one young man asked if he ate Vegemite. The answer was insects.
There was also Oly Boly, a chinchilla, which is one of the softest animals in the world. Parent showed that chinchillas use a dust bath to clean themselves, because water doesn’t react well with their fur coats.
Parent also welcomed Po, a tree frog, which the kids were allowed to rest on their hands.
It was an alligator and snake, though, that got the crowd most excited. Parent brought out Mocha, a red-tailed boa constrictor, and it quickly became clear how different the audience reaction was, compared to the chinchilla. Still, after Parent explained that the Curious Creatures staff feeds the animal frozen mice to keep him docile, the kids (and their guardians) were more open to petting him. Chompy the alligator, on the other hand, needed to have his mouth taped shut; while impressed, the crowd was far more at ease with him.
When the show was over, Nikolas grabbed Chompy’s hand and waved goodbye to the crowd.