VINTON–Bambi Godkin, educational specialist at the Mill Mountain Zoo, brought four of her animal friends to the Vinton Library on July 29 as part of the continuing summer reading program. These particular animals are housed in the education section of the zoo and are not on public display.
Children and parents at the family event were introduced to Freddie the domesticated ferret, Baloo the White’s tree frog, Peng You the Chinese water dragon, and Benjamin the Flemish Giant Rabbit.
Godkin spoke about the characteristics of each animal and then circulated through the crowd allowing participants to pet the ferret and Peng You during the program. She responded to numerous questions from the thoroughly engaged children throughout the presentation.
Benjamin the rabbit, prefers to stay in one place so he sat at Godkin’s feet and let the guests come to him for an extended petting session at the end of the hour.
Domesticated ferrets like Freddie date back to ancient times, where they were used to hunt rabbits for the Romans—thus the term “ferreting out.” They are part of the weasel family. Ferrets, although they have sharp teeth and claws, make excellent pets, enjoy running obstacle courses, and can be trained to litter boxes.
Godkin explained that Baloo, the White’s tree frog, is a native of Australia living up in the trees in the rain forest. They change colors subtly from blues to greens, browns, and grays. They have toxins in their skin and also thin skin which makes them too sensitive to handle. Frogs are frequently studied by scientists because they are so susceptible to pollutants.
Peng You, the Chinese water dragon, was born at Mill Mountain Zoo—one of several siblings. The others have been dispersed to zoos across the country. These creatures live in trees in wet areas, as they are preyed upon by birds, snakes, and larger lizards. They are quick swimmers and able to hold their breath for long periods.
The Flemish Giant Rabbit is aptly named because they can weigh between 15 and 25 pounds. Benjamin, who visited the Vinton Library, is eight years old and weighs about 12.5 pounds. They are a domesticated species, not living in the wild. They were originally raised as a food source and remain so in Europe today.
Godkin said these rabbits are mellow and make good pets. The famous Cadbury bunny is a Flemish Giant.
The summer reading program is wrapping up. Vinton celebrated the accomplishments of the summer with an ice cream social at the library on August 3. Library assistants Emily Metrock and Marni Smith served up five gallons of chocolate and vanilla, while parents supplied the toppings.
Summer events for teens and tweens continued with outdoor game night, including Outdoor Twister.