Professional wild animal handler Terry Sullivan's lifetime interaction with non-traditional pets was a big hit during the Liberty library's summer reading program this month.
Known professionally as Jungle Terry, Sullivan, who has been performing his wild animal show for 20 years, both entertained and educated more than 30 children who attended just one of the many events the library sponsors to encourage children to read over their summer break from school.
His first wild pet while still a child was a turtle, Sullivan told the children during his presentation.
''Before they started calling me Jungle Terry, when I was 10 they called me Turtle Terry,'' he said. ''Then they called me Snake Boy.''
Demonstrating his childhood pets, Sullivan pulled first a small box turtle he named Lucky from a large plastic tub and told the audience it has been his pet for more than 32 years. Lucky's turtle girlfriend, named Rescue, also came out of the tub, and using the tub's large plastic lid as a track, Sullivan encouraged the children to cheer the pair of turtles as they raced each other on the lid.
One by one, children were selected from the audience to hold a variety of animals that included a chinchilla named Cinnamon, an African pygmy hedgehog, an Albino skunk named Aspen and a young alligator named Captain Jack.
Not leaving out his feathered friends, Jungle Terry brought out a small baby bird for one of the children to hold, but also a pair of fantail pigeons to fly over the crowd seated on the floor in the children's section of the library.
''I'm going to bring Mrs. P over for you to pet,'' Jungle Terry told the children. ''But if Mr. P looks like he's going to fly, he doesn't want to hurt you, he just wants to grab your ears.''
While they touched the female bird in Jungle Terry's hands, the children squealed and covered their ears each time the male bird jumped and flapped his wings from the lid of a plastic tub where he perched.
The highlight of the show was Banana Hannah, a 10-foot albino snake that took first all the girls and then all the boys to hold off the floor.
Jungle Terry encouraged the children to read about their favorite wild animals from books available at the library.
''Anything you want to know about your favorite animals, you can find here at the library,'' he said.