2011-08-05 / Front Page

The wonders of wild animals

Library program captivates audience
STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIANE C. BEAUDOIN


Elliot, a white cockatoo, prepares to entertain a full house at the Leominster Public Library, as part of the Creature Teachers program. Elliot, a white cockatoo, prepares to entertain a full house at the Leominster Public Library, as part of the Creature Teachers program. Sights, sounds and smells of the wild animal kingdom were greeted with cheers, applause, and gasps at the Leominster Public Library recently as Rick Roth with Creature Teachers presented species most people only see in magazines and on television.

Roth travels to local locations to give live and up close demonstrations to children of all ages, and one popular stop is the library, according to Linda Peterson, Head of Children’s Services at the library.

“We try to get Rick here as it’s usually the largest turnout for our free programs. Everyone loves animals, and he brings some different ones every time he can come here,” she said.

Creature Teachers shows animals from all over the world, and explores the diverse habitats the animals need to survive.

This visit to the library included a kookaburra, a wallaby, Elliot, a white cockatoo, a giant toad, a baby boa constrictor, an alligator, just to name a few.

Roth, who resides in Littleton, said he has been involved with animals his entire life.

“My father was with the Audubon Society. He was always getting animals to adopt, to heal, and to provide a home for. At one point in my younger life, I thought it was perfectly normal and everyone had a bobcat sleeping in their kitchen,” he laughed.

His appreciation of wildlife turned into a career that he absolutely loves.

“My wife and I decided to teach people the wonders of wild animals. We began sending out fliers to schools, libraries and even senior centers. We do shows, birthday parties, and found everyone is fascinated with these animals,” he said.

Elliot entertained the children and adults first, showing his dexterity by unlocking his own cage, then walking around on the top of it. When being handled by Roth,

Elliot displays a sense of whimsy, playing more to the children at each passing moment.

“He is quite the character,” Roth said.

Roth explained that birds, in his opinion, are the most diverse in intelligence of all animals.

“Cockatoos are quite intelligent. The next visitor we will see is not quite so bright,” Roth said.

A kookaburra dubbed Elvis came out of his cage, with Roth saying he is the largest of all kingfisher birds.

“However, he is not the brightest bulb on the tree,” he laughed.

With very little coaxing, Elvis went into his jungle calls, much to the delight of the packed room.

Tucker the Wallaby then amused the guests with his kangaroo-like antics, and Roth explaining how Wallabies are marsupials from Australia, and is just one of 159 types of that species.

Charlotte, a Coati from Central America drew laughter as the ring tailed animal sat on Roth’s back and tousled his hair looking for bugs to eat.

“This is her favorite spot, and she will search high and low for bugs to eat. These animals have double jointed noses and use their front feet along with the nose to look for food,” he said.

Peterson said the library is always excited to host the animal show, which is sponsored by Bemis Associates.

“It is so much fun to see all the children having fun and seeing animals they normally would not get a chance to see. Rick does a wonderful job and it is a treat to have him here,” she concluded.

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