Combining a love of animals with a passion for the night sky, "Creatures of the Galaxy" visited the Madison County Public Library Thursday.
Celia Armstrong of Animal Tales taught children of all ages about the constellations of exotic animals, as well as about the animals themselves during the program.
She had six constellations she made on a board, and before bringing out her animal companions that related to each constellation, she quizzed the kids if they knew what the constellations were.
"We're going to talk about different things about each of them," she explained.
The first constellation, which some guessed was a snake, was actually Scorpio, one of the 12 zodiac signs.
"Did you know scorpions are weapons of mass destruction in the insect world?" she asked. "They're built like tanks."
She brought out a scorpion named Groot to show off, and while doing so, she also brought out a flashlight that emits a light similar to moonlight. While shining it on the scorpion, children could see how scorpions become iridescent in the moonlight in order to lure in prey before paralyzing and eating their food.
The next constellation on Armstrong's board was not as well known as Scorpio: Lacerta, which is Latin for lizard, she explained.
Armstrong brought out Jagger, a Sudan plated lizard, native to Africa, and talked about how lizards will whip their tail around when they're in danger. She also talked about how if a lizard loses its tail to a bird of prey, it can grow a new one over time.
The next constellation Armstrong lit on her board, and the next animal she introduced to the program's participants, was that of a snake.
Before bringing out Scarlet, a boa constrictor, Armstrong talked about the Bronx zoo in 1960. She specifically mentioned the keeper of the reptile house.
"This guy wanted to have the largest snake ever kept in captivity," she said. "Do you want to know what the largest snake ever was?"
Armstrong then asked two volunteers to take 32 feet of yarn and stretch it across the room in the library so they knew how big of a snake she was talking about.
The answer, she said, is the reticulated python, which grew to be that long and lived for 20 years at the zoo.
The next constellation, Lepus, is also the Latin word for hare, Armstrong said. She then asked for everyone in the room to be quiet, as the next animal companion she was bringing out was only 4 months old.
But despite only being 4 months old, Luna the Flemish giant rabbit, like her breed suggests, was a big rabbit. In fact, Flemish giant rabbits are the largest type of rabbit in the world.
Armstrong asked if the children knew why Luna, and other rabbits, have such big ears. The first reason came quickly to the participants: Rabbits need to be able to hear well because they're prey animals and need to be alerted of nearby predators.
The other reason, however, is that the ears act as a cooling system when rabbits become overheated, Armstrong said.
After Armstrong put Luna away, she brought out Frostbite, a chinchilla, who is also 4 months old.
"What is frostbite?" Armstrong asked.
"It's when you're cold," one participant answered.
Armstrong agreed and said the chinchilla is named Frostbite because he's from where it's cold: the Andes Mountains in South America.
But what really makes chinchilla unique, Armstrong said, is that they grow 70 hairs out of one follicle, whereas humans can only grow one hair out of a follicle.
From a similar region, the next guest at the library was a 9-week-old kinkajou, sometimes referred to as a honey bear. Specifically, Armstrong said, they live in the rain forests of South America and Central America.
In addition to eating honey, their diets consist of fruits, Armstrong explained. Both Bentley, the kinkajou, and Frostbite are nocturnal animals, so they didn't stay out very long.
As Armstrong was concluding the program, she reminded everyone in attendance: "The next time you're looking at the stars, I hope you look for some of these constellations."
For more information about Animal Tales, visit animaledzoocation.com.
Reach Sara Kuhl at 624-6626; follow her on Twitter @saraekuhl.