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Wildlife encounters thrill fairgoersTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Jay Huff
Fredericks with boa
Photo by Jay Huff
Brave handlers
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Brave kiss
Photo by Jay Huff
Lang with Fennec fox

Candace Fredericks of North Platte volunteered to walk through the audience carrying a red-tailed boa constrictor Sunday.

At the Wildlife Encounters show at the Lincoln County Fair, host Rick Lang presented a selection of exotic animals to get close to and touch.

The show involved a lot of audience participation and everyone seemed to enjoy it, except one lady with an apparent fear of snakes who took off for parts unknown, and returned only when the snake was back in its cage.

There was a Fennec fox (Ghost Fox) named Oscar that is 15-years-old and only weighs four pounds. The Fennec fox is the world’s smallest breed of fox and their main predators are owls. Lang did not allow audiences to pet Oscar, as these little foxes tend to be biters.

Lang said there are a couple of Chihuahua dogs at the Wildlife Encounters compound that are the favorite playmates of the Fennec Foxes.

Another favorite of the kids was an African Sulcata Tortoise. The kids got to touch it and feed it cucumbers. The tortoise is 12-years-old and weighs 60 pounds. It will grow to above 150 pounds and can live up to 150 years.

One of the most seemingly gentle creatures was a South American coatimundi, also known as the South American raccoon. It walked around on a leash and sniffed and nuzzled people. The Coatimundi is actually one of the world’s largest rodents.

Another favorite was a South American kinkajou named Sebastian. Resembling a lemur with big eyes and a long tail, it can hang from trees and often hangs upside down while eating.

Also known as Honey Bears, the kinkajou were the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh, but Pooh became a regular bear in the cartoons. It was thought for years that the kinkajou were going extinct, but the animals have been discovered deep in rain forests. The animals are nocturnal and rarely let themselves be seen.

An American Alligator set everyone on edge. Lang carried the four-foot, 30-pound gator among the crowd and it seemed content to be held. Lang warned a few not to put their hands close to its mouth. The gators can grow to 12-14 feet and weigh 400-500 pounds. They exert up to 1,500 pounds of biting force.

Wildlife Encounters is based out of Gretna and offers educational school assembly and classroom presentations about our natural world.

Students see and interact with some of the world’s most amazing animals while learning about different environments, the animals within them, and our impact upon them.

Lang and crew will do presentations at libraries, scout programs and can be hired to do an educational birthday party show. Their web site is wildlifeencounters.org

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 7/28/2013
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