CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – For one night, the Chappaqua Public Library felt more like a zoo.
Since children’s literature can often misinterpret how children view certain animals, “Regional Wildlife,” led by Naturalist Bill Fix and his wife, Anita, stopped by the Chappaqua Public Library Thursday night to separate fact from fiction.
The program, dubbed “Animal Heroes of Literature and Legend,” included live animals, including exotic birds and reptiles, that have been featured in many works of literature.
“The goal of this show is to broaden children’s understanding of animals and ultimately get them to appreciate and cherish nature,” said Fix, who has been doing his shows since 1980.
Fix began his show with a freeze-dried scorpion and alluded to the Aesop fable of “The Scorpion and the Frog,” which Fix told the kids “has a good moral.”
After showing the fossilized scorpion, the rest of the animals Fix presented were very much alive.
Fix introduced his first live animal by asking children “Are dragons real?” He then brought out the closest thing to a fictional dragon that could be brought into a library: a bearded dragon.
That got a laugh from both kids and parents, as some younger children in the audience were worried Fix brought the kind of dragon that is so often portrayed in books.
Other animals Fix brought along included an iguana, an African spur thigh tortoise, a carpet python, a ferret and a Harris hawk, in addition to a traditional tortoise and two smaller crossbred snakes.
Fix often chimed in with anecdotes for each animal, such as incorporating the original “Jungle Book” in his presentation of the carpet python.
“When the panthers try to rescue Mowgli from the monkeys, they need the help of the python Kaa,” he told the audience. “Kaa helps them rescue Mowgli, but then eats all of the monkeys as his reward.”
Fix, who presents all kinds of different shows in venues such as schools and camps, in addition to libraries, said the immediate access to information after the show is his favorite part about "Animal Heroes of Literature and Legend."
“This library show is great because it provides the opportunity for immediate gratification,” he said. “Here, when the kids want to learn more about an animal, they can do it right after the show.”
The Chappaqua Library had many books on a display table, most of which related to the animals Fix presented. Children's Library Director Miriam Budin also promised Fix the library would bring in any books on any animals kids requested to learn about that it didn’t already have.