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Oakton Library Hosts Wildlife Ambassadors

Children meet four animal guests to learn how they use their tails

It was standing room-only at on Friday morning as Karen Shore, director of the group Wildlife Ambassadors, proudly introduced four animal guests to more than 65 children and adults for the Wild Tails program. 

First out was Mowgli, an African grey parrot. 

"What is Mowgil’s bright red tail for?" she asked the group.

"Courtship," called out 6-year-old Amiel Hopkins, who attends Gesher Jewish Day School.

The program was co-sponsored by the Fairfax Library Foundation and it will be repeated at other libraries countywide this summer.

Wildlife Ambassadors, led by Shore, is a Loudoun County-based environmental educational organization established in 1996 that teaches respect for wildlife and the environment.

Shore, who has a degree in wildlife biology and speech communications from Virginia Tech, travels across Virginia with some of the 30 different animals that come to her from shelters, other wildlife centers and programs and private citizens. Most often, she said, her animals have been given up, are not appropriate pets, are injured wildlife and cannot be released, or were born in captivity.

The goal is to allow audiences to get up close and personal to learn more about animal wildlife.

Shore said that children seeing the animals leaves lasting impressions that words alone could not convey.

"The goal is to educate children and to encourage budding wildlife conservationists, biologists and naturalists," Shore said.

Shore next introduces a corn snake named Kernel.

"What should you do when you see a snake?" she asked the group.

"Scream and run away?" called out an audience member.

Laughing, Shore reminded the crowd "snakes don’t have ears" and the best thing to do is to "leave the snake alone."

Shore reminded the group snakes play a vital role by eating the mice that eat in the cornfield.

"If you like your summer corn-on-the-cob, you should be Kernel’s fan," she said. 

Mia, the 11-week old red fox, and Roscoe the bearded dragon captivated the crowd, too.

When asked what she learned today, rising third-grader at Hunters Woods Elementary School for the Arts and Sciences student Shevany Moharir said, "I learned these animals are not going to harm me. I just need to stay away, leave them alone."

See other Wild Tails programs at libraries this summer:

  • July 14, 7 p.m. at Dolley Madison Library
  • July 19, 2:30 p.m. at Martha Washington Library
  • Aug. 6, 10:30 a.m. at Burke Center Library
  • Aug. 10, 10:30 a.m. at Great Falls Library

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