HAZEL PARK — A giant tortoise, giant snake, kangaroo, honey bear, fox, Siberian lynx, exotic birds and more are coming to the Hazel Park District Library, allowing patrons to see them up close.
People of all ages are welcome to the hands-on traveling exhibit, which will take place at 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 19, in the library at 123 E. Nine Mile Road.
The free event is presented by Exotic Zoo and kicks off the library’s summer reading program. The animals are managed by Javon Stacks, a zoologist and primatologist. Stacks started Exotic Zoo in 2009 and currently has more than 300 animals in his care, including exotic reptiles, mammals and birds from all around the world. The group owns many acres of land in Belleville, Michigan, where it keeps the animals.
“I got started from having a love and passion for animals ever since my childhood,” Stacks said in an email. “I wanted to do something I loved, so I went to school to become a zoologist and primatologist. … When I was a child, I remember programs like the ones I’m now performing. It taught me how to respect the animals and how we share the earth. The Exotic Zoo gives back to the community by exposing the children to rare and exotic animals. It allows them to have a hands-on and up-close encounter with these amazing creatures.”
Amy Beem, the youth services librarian, said she’s excited for Exotic Zoo.
“Many people have been to the Detroit Zoo, but how many have been able to pet the animals?” Beem said. “People love animals and learning about them. And we love giving them the opportunity to come to the programs.”
Corrine Stocker, the library director, agreed.
“When you read something in a textbook at school, it’s not very exciting, but when you see the live animal and get up close to it, then it suddenly becomes far more interesting,” Stocker said. “I think it stimulates kids and inspires them to want to (learn) more about it. That’s the beauty of these programs, where they can get up close with animals they might not ordinarily see.”
Exotic Zoo follows other animal-centric programming at the library, such as a visit by the Nature Bus in May, paid for by a grant from the Spirit of Alexandria Foundation, which included a live birds of prey show featuring an owl, a vulture and more.
And prior to that, around Halloween 2017, the library featured a live bat show by the Cranbrook Institute of Science. The bat show was so popular that the audience spilled into the library’s hallways. There are already plans to hold another one this fall, this time at the Recreation Center, where there will be more room.
The library has also hosted therapy dogs in the past for the “Reading with Rover” program, where kids could build their confidence reading to the dogs, who are patient and loving listeners.
For more information, call the Hazel Park District Library at (248) 546-4095.
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