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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on April 11, 2000 at 05:22:39:
LEDGER-ENQUIRER (Columbus, Georgia) 10 April 00 Snakes Alive! (Eddie Daniels)
Amid walls lined with birds frozen in mid-flight, turtles stalled in mid-meander and other wildlife suspended in mid-stride, Oxbow Meadows' Coordinator of Wildlife and Trails, Jim Trostle, talked to more than 100 children and parents about snakes Sunday afternoon.
With one slithering crawler undulating on each arm, Trostle jostled between questions from the audience and explaining snakes -- including corn, coach whip, Easter, Eastern king, gray rat and yellow rat species -- in the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center.
Seven-year-old Sharleta Magee was all smiles while discussing snakes. She once took a picture with a python around her shoulders at a fair and has been a fan ever since. A valuable lesson was learned by the youngster on Sunday.
"Sometimes if you step on one and if you are not very careful it might bite you," Sharleta said. "And if you pick up a poisonous snake, it might bite you, too."
"We just like stuff on the outside period, whether it's snakes or fish," said Shelonyna Magee, Sharleta's mother. "So each time they have something about the environment, we like to come see it."
Pat McDonald brought his wife, Laura, and daughter Emily to partake in a bit of snake education.
Anything that walks, flies, wiggles or squirms catches his daughter's attention, said McDonald. He figured Sunday's snake presentation would be the perfect event for the family.
McDonald said it would also teach his daughter to be cautious if she comes in contact with a snake.
"If she sees a snake, tell somebody and don't touch it without someone else being around," McDonald said.
Similar programs teaching snake awareness are normally taught once a week, Trostle said. But this is the first time he has tutored a crowd so large. Fear was not a problem Sunday, but it is normal for anyone to be scared of a serpent.
"Kids always seem to be fascinated by snakes -- even if they're scared," Trostle said. "Even the adults.
"Last week there was a school group in here and one girl stood in the back of the room and started to cry when I took the snake out of the bag," he said. "By the end of the presentation she came up and touched it. Forty-nine out of 50 kids who start out afraid, but you can get them to come up and touch a snake by the time it's done."
Every second Sunday, an animal is presented at the Environmental Learning Center, Trostle said.
The center operates Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Sunday noon-4 p.m.
After giving his audience all the facts about the reptiles with forked tongues, Trostle asked if the children wanted to pet the them.
With a resounding "Yes!" the kids gathered around and stroked the scales of the snakes.