Summer Reading Program to take a break

Shawna Adams of the Natural History Educational Company of the Mid South, has an Amazon Parrot who after living with her for several years can vocalize words, such as, hello, how are you and hush. Adams brought several animals who dwell in rain forests during Tuesday's Summer Reading Program at Bryan Public Library (Photo by Donna Summerall, DTL)
Staff Writer

Tuesday's Summer Reading Program began at the Bryan Public Library with a few announcements for the upcoming weeks.

"The library will be closed Monday and Tuesday for the Fourth of July holiday," children’s librarian Dawn Richardson said. "We won't have any programs next week. With the library closed and lot of people going out of town, we will meet again Tuesday July 11."

Richardson said Tommy Terrific's Wacky Magic Show will be at the library July 11. Tommy Terrific is from Arkansas, and has not been an entertainer at the Summer Reading Program for several years. Richardson said she was happy that he will be back to visit.

Natural History Educational Company of the Mid South (NHECM) provides entertaining and educational wildlife programming for hundreds of schools and organizations throughout the Southeast. Owned and managed by wildlife biologist Bob Tarter, the organization proudly features a new wildlife program each year to meet the goal of providing unique experiences to our many annual observers, in addition to maintaining the ability to offer several other of the popular past programs.

Shawna Adams has been with NHECM since 2015. She has been a teacher for 11 years for general science, biology and chemistry courses for grades 7-12 in West Tennessee. She has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Biology, from Murray State University and also has worked as a vet tech for almost ten years. She is passionate about the need to educate the younger generation about the natural world and practices this passion already with many “classroom pets” in her Bradford Elementary school room. She has seen first hand how children can learn and appreciate animals more by experiencing them up close.

"This year our program is called ‘Rainforest Community; Under the Canopy,’" Adams said. "All of my animals live in the rainforest of South America, Central America and the southeastern coast of Africa."

She asked the children if they had heard of Madagascar. All of them knew about the animated films "Madagascar." So she showed them a Hissing Cockroach
that makes its home in the rainforest of Madagascar.

"Madagascar is a real place, not just a cartoon," Adams said. "These roaches live on the ground, under the dense canopy. Only 2 percent of the daylight reaches the ground. These cockroaches are extremely important to the eco-system of the rainforest."

She said the cockroaches that live in the United States are completely different from the Madagascar Hissing Cockroarches.

"The ones here are nasty," Adams said. "I wouldn't pick one up and let it crawl on my arm like this one. The roaches here can fly, they live where humans live and they carry diseases. The Hissing Cockroaches don't do any of those things They eat dead leaves and plants to clean the rainforest floor and they keep the soil nutrient rich."

She brought out an iguana from the South American Amazon Rainforest. "If you want to be able to tell the difference between lizards and snakes," Adams said.

"Lizards can blink. They have eyelids. Snakes do not. Lizards, frogs and toads have eyelids and ears. Snakes don't have either."

As part of the program, Adams also had a red - tailed boa constrictor, and a Straw - Colored

African Fruit Bat named Arnold.

"Arnold is the most widely distributed African fruit bat and can live in a wide range of habitats, including coastal forests to dry arid regions," Adams said. "Their name comes from the straw-colored neck and throat of the males. They eat several times their weight in fresh fruit and are vital towards helping fruit trees disperse seeds and pollinate."

She asked the children in the audience what the brown bats who are native to Mississippi eat? She told them they eat mosquitos.

"Go outside while it's dark and watch the bats," Adams said. "A bat can eat 1,000 mosquitos in one hour. Bats aren't scary, they are very helpful to humans. They are important
to the eco - system."

Adams walked around with an African Parrot, whom she characterized as a two year old who never grows up and never leaves.

"I don't recommend a parrot as a pet," Adams said. "They can live 50 to 80 years, they bond with one person, it is extremely clingy. This parrot has bonded with me and bites everyone else. I'm mama. It was given to me by someone who could't take care of it anymore. I have no idea how old it is and it will probably out live me."

The final animal was a Coatimundi, also known as the White-nosed Coati.

"This animal is diurnal, living both on the ground and in the trees," Adams said. "It is a member of the raccoon family. It is omnivorous, feeding on fruits, invertebrates, and other small animals. They feed by using their long noses, poking them under rocks and into crevices, and using their long claws to dig holes or tear apart rotting logs. They are native to Central American rainforests."