The Best Western Glengarry saw a different type of guests this weekend as a group of exotic reptiles, birds and mammals came to town.
Kids and parents flooded into the Glengarry as Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo held its ‘Diversity of Things’ animal education show in Truro Saturday morning to teach kids the importance of research and animal care.
“We do Jungle Lands, which is our animal education program that we host in small communities around Canada,” said Tracy Chaves, a representative with Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo.
“We take all of our animals, most of which are rescues, and set them up for kids to see, pet and learn about. We talk a lot about animals, and try to teach kids that you have to do your research before you take home a pet.”
Small reptiles and animals, such as lizards, spiders, snakes, rabbits, and guinea pigs, were set up in enclosures and aquariums around the hotel’s conference room, allowing kids to see and handle the animals in a safe environment.
Throughout the day, workers held an educational presentation on a few bigger animals, including Mr. Wiggles the alligator, various predatory birds and other exotic animals, to teach kids the importance of safe conservation.
"We have a sloth this year, which is our feature animal presentation,” said Chaves.
“We are using the sloth to talk about animal welfare and the importance of zoos and conservation. The sloth helps us reach out to people and make them understand that you can’t really see these animals in the wild, because there is no wild left. We manage all of our wild.”
On top of pushing the importance of conservation, they also use the animal presentations and exhibits as a way to show people the importance of researching how to care for animals before getting them.
“About 90 per cent of the animals we have with us are all rescues,” said Chaves.
“At some point someone decided they could no longer handle them and gave them up, like our tortoises. When people get these tortoises, they are small and cute, but when they are fully grown, they are about 250-300 pounds and require huge enclosures most people don’t have or think about.”
While most of the animals were able to be handled and petted under supervision, others were kept to a ‘look only’ rule to avoid any unneeded stress for the animal.
“Certain animals, such as the sloth, people can’t pet,” said Chaves.
“There is simply just too many people for our sloth and it would stress him out, so we don’t let people touch him.
“With all our animals, if I think they are getting stressed out and aren’t enjoying it, I’ll put them away because they are our priority.”