Zoo Animals Fight Traffic To Meet Greenbelt Children
Tuesday proved that neither man nor critter is spared when it comes to DC-Baltimore metro area traffic.
While around 100 eager kids held their breath in the Greenbelt Library, four feathered, furred, shell- and scale-covered animals were stuck in traffic on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, heading south.
But the kids didn't go home when the animals failed to show up by the program's 2 p.m. start time. They waited, eventually lining the hallway to the library auditorium and the stairwell behind it.
Then the nail-biting moment arrived when the "Zoomobile" pulled up behind the library at its bottom floor entrance at around 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Jay Hines, who was standing in the hallway with four children, said he had been stuck on the B-W Parkway, too. He speculated that the animals were restless, while Lahvon Tinker, 12, who came with him, thought the delay may have driven the animals a bit crazy.
Considering their frustrating traffic predicament, Jay wanted to know one thing about the animals before taking the children in to see them: "Did they eat yet?"
Small eyes became large as cages, with covers hiding their inhabitants, began moving into the library's meeting room, carried by Maryland Zoo staffers, Amy Meador and Kristen Neat, along with Eric Traub, an intern from Princeton University.
Mouths gaped and eyes widened, as the mystery was revealed, and kids met each of the four Maryland Zoo native species that had been cloaked within the cages.
Some kids jumped back in alarm when Neat brought out Candy, the corn snake—otherwise known as candy corn—and started walking him around the room, where children sat on the floor in rows.
"He's a very nice snake" and not venomous, Meador assured them.
One small boy on the front row was not quite persuaded and wanted to know, "What happens if he bites us?"
Meador said he was not going to bite, but if he did, a Bandaid would be at the ready.
Upon meeting Wade, the bog turtle, a boy asked whether the animal was a baby. Though Wade was small enough to fit easily within Neat's hand, she explained that Wade was nonetheless an adult.
Meader left it up to the children to guess what the next animal, Camden, was. Right away, Guhnee Han, 7, who was sitting in the audience, piped up declaring him a kestrel or an Atlanta Falcon—and he was right on target. Camden is indeed a kestrel, who got his name because he was found in Camden Yards, Meador said.
Sniffs could be heard right and left in the meeting room when the children were introduced to Peppe, the skunk. Though Meador assured them the animal was not able to send out an odor, some small noses continued to wrinkle, unconvinced.
When it came to smell, it was apparently not Peppe the kids should have worried about. The most odiferous animal at the Maryland Zoo is probably a porcupine, Meador said. "He stinks."
Ellen Utley, library branch manager, said she was glad to see the crowd stayed, considering how young some of the children were. They were a persevering bunch, she noted.
Tuesday's offering was the first in the library's summer program for children, Utley said. Next Tuesday, at 2 p.m., traffic permitting, Nicolo the Jester will perform tricks, magic, juggling and puppetry for children ages 6 and up.