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Purcell Public Library

Extreme Animals bringing the “Zoo 2 U” with library presentation

As much as they’re doing to help the animals in their care, the crew at Extreme Animals is doing just as much in educating young people to have a knowledge and respect of those animals.

The Oklahoma City-based organization works in wildlife rehabilitation and in education to the public, particularly young people, about the proper care of animals.

And they’re bringing the “Zoo 2 U” as part of a tour of the Pioneer Library System, which includes a stop at the Purcell Public Library at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 17.

Their presentation will be part discussion, part demonstration, and all education, even as children are enjoying the interactions with such animal friends as a baby kangaroo, a lemur or a coatimundi (a small four-legged South American animal somewhat resembling a raccoon).

“Kids all think it’s really cool going to the zoo, but you don’t get to have the interaction with the animals there,” said Shana Schmidt of Extreme Animals. “Here you might get to feel what it’s like to have a lemur climb up on your shoulder.”

Extreme Animals uses its many presentations at libraries, schools, businesses and even birthday parties as a way to fund its ultimate mission, which is to help the animals that come into its care.

The group never takes an animal from captivity but has many they receive from members of the public who just can’t care for it anymore. Shana holds an albino Burmese python named One-Eyed Jack as she talks about this.

“A lot of times someone will have it as a pet and the animal starts getting sick. So by the time we get them, like with this snake, they may have lost 10 pounds, which to a snake that’s a huge amount.”

One-Eyed Jack has made a strong recovery and now is part of a lesson on bullying, how there is nothing wrong with looking different from someone else. He is one of several animals that the group regularly takes out for outreach programs or other events. That’s not the case with all of their animals.

“A lot of our animals are rescued, and will never be able to go out in public,” Shana said. “But they are able to live out a good life and be healthy in our facility.”

Their capacity is about 100 animals at this time, and it’s hard for it to increase since once an animal enters the group’s care, it will stay.

“Once an animal’s been in captivity, it’s just not fair to release them back. If they’ve been in captivity, they just wouldn’t be able to make it in the wild. It would not be giving them a fair chance.”

Major sponsors for this year’s Summer Reading Program are the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Oklahoma Arts Council, Hitachi, Kirkpatrick Family Fund, The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Sonic, Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan, The Oklahoman, the Pioneer Library System and the Pioneer Library System Foundation.

For more information, visit the library or call 527-5546.

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