Shrieks and screams erupted from the crowd as Miss Piggy made her entrance into the CVIC Hall Tuesday night.
The 105-pound, 15-foot Burmese python was part of the Wild Things show sponsored by the Douglas County Public Library.
“If you see a snake, enjoy having seen it, but just leave it alone,” director Gabe Kerschner said. “This animal needs an area the size of a bedroom. The big boas belong in the wild.”
Wild Things Inc. was founded in 1987 for the purpose of housing and caring for displaced wildlife. and educating the public with a message of conservation and appreciation for natural wonders.
“The youngsters today need to get the message of conservation and respect for wildlife,” Kerschner said. “Through an emotional connection to the animals and their stories, they retain a lot.”
Dallas Smith, 10, stood still as a statue as an eight-legged, hairy, black tarantula named Rosie was placed on his back.
“It was itchy,” Dallas said. “I was wondering if it would bite me. I was nervous, but that was my favorite part of the show.”
When Kerschner brought out Nike, a South American kinkajou, guesses as to what it was ranged from monkey to raccoon. Kinkajous are rain forest mammals that may be mistaken for ferrets or monkeys, but are not closely related to either.
Kerschner said Nike will stay up all night, hanging upside down from his tail eating bananas and flowers.
“When you guys get home tonight, go to your kitchen, get a banana, hang upside down and try to eat it,” Kerschner joked.
Nike was 10-year-old Sarah Gardner’s favorite animal.
“It was really cute looking and I liked the way it hung from its tail,” Sarah said. “I also learned that vultures throw up when they’re scared. It’s disgusting, but a cool tool for survival in case something is going to eat you.”
According to Kerschner, vultures will stuff themselves so full that they can’t fly, so when a predator approaches them, they vomit in order to escape.
“Better to lose your lunch, than your life,” he said.
East Valley residents Curtis Hoffman and his son, Xavier, were brave enough to pet Miss Piggy after the show.
“It felt almost wet, but kind of scaly,” 6-year-old Xavier said. “It was kind of creepy.”
Other animals Kerschner brought with him included a black-throated monitor lizard and a skunk.
The show was the final event in the library’s summer reading program which had more than 1,000 children and teens participate.