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Chil­dren have a nat­u­ral fas­ci­na­tion with an­i­mals, and a hands-on pro­gram with ex­otic crea­tures can be ed­u­ca­tional, fun— and make for great pho­to­graphs and mem­o­ries. Some en­counter pro­grams spe­cial­ize in snakes, frogs, and lizards; some bring along more cud­dly crea­tures, like bun­nies, fer­rets, chin­chillas and fly­ing squir­rels.

Be sure to ask whether the pre­sen­ter prefers to work in­doors or out­side, and if there are any other spe­cial con­sid­er­a­tions. (Bug spray, for ex­am­ple, can be toxic to some of th­ese lit­tle guys.) Also, chil­dren can get very ex­cited to see and touch the an­i­mals. As most an­i­mals re­spond bet­ter to a calm au­di­ence, it can be help­ful to ex­plain your ex­pec­ta­tions to the kids in ad­vance, with gen­tle re­minders dur­ing the pro­gram.

Lo­cally, you can check out River­side Rep­tiles, www.river­siderep­ Rep­tiles on the­Move, www.rep­tileson­the­; Cu­ri­ous Crea­tures,­ri­ouscrea­; Bwana Iguana Rep­tile Ad­ven­ture; and An­i­mal Ex­pe­ri­ences by Dave, www.bestani­mal­ex­pe­ri­ences­by­; among oth­ers. Mys­tic Aquar­ium also of­fers on-site and trav­el­ing par­ties lo­cally; visit www.mys­ti­caquar­

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