Wild about the library

Animals help kick off summer programming

Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski Caretaker Jaimie Kemmerer of Eighty Four talks about a European eagle owl during the free Wild World of Animals event at the Altoona Area High School auditorium on Friday as part of the Altoona Area Public Library's Summer Quest program.

The Altoona Area Public Library kicked off its summer programming with a couple leopard cubs, a scorpion, an alligator, a tortoise, a baby kangaroo, an owl, a snake and a monkey — all kinds of animals small and creepy and cute and furry.

Children bounced in their seats Friday at the Altoona Area High School auditorium with every new animal brought to the stage by Wild World of Animals caretaker Jaimie Kemmerer.

Kemmerer conducted two live animal shows Friday, drawing more than 1,000 people between both shows. Sara Ebersole, children’s activities supervisor at the library, said it might have been the biggest kickoff to the library’s summer programs ever.

Children eagerly an­swered Kemmerer’s questions about the animals they saw on stage and listened to her explain facts about each animal. And that’s the kind of enthusiasm the library hopes will carry over into its summer programming geared toward increasing literacy among children, Ebersole said.

The event Friday was paid for by a private donor and facilitated by the school district, which allowed the library staff to use its auditorium at no charge, Ebersole said.

Mirror photos by Patrick Waksmunski Caretaker Jaimie Kemmerer of Eighty Four talks about a mandrill.during the free Wild World of Animals event at the Altoona Area High School auditorium on Friday as part of the Altoona Area Public Library's Summer Quest program.

Giggles emanated from the crowd as a mandrill named Misha jumped around — and on — Kemmerer.

Mandrills are the largest monkey species in the world and are critically endangered, Kemmerer said.

She also lugged a 50-pound tortoise across the stage and plopped it down. That one elicited gasps for its size.

Kemmerer explained the differences between the land-dwelling tortoise, with its dome-shaped shell, and a turtle that has a flat shell and lives in water.

The crowd favorite, however, was a pair of 13-week-old leopard cubs.

At the end of the show, families registered for the library’s summer programs — many children wanting to learn more about the animals they saw and some children, like Madison Carothers, 6, also wanting a pet leopard.

Carothers’ grandfather, Raymond Kimmell, smiled.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.

COMMENTS