The vast majority of my work day to day involves animals of numerous different species and that is just fine with me. One species I am not so keen on is Homo sapiens so I tend to avoid spending too much time with them if at all possible. In particular I find the juvenile form of this species particularly daunting but such is the nature of my job, occasionally I have to step into the spotlight and actually talk to groups of children about my work. I would far rather spend my morning working with my venomous snakes and spiders than do this but sometimes it just can't be avoided. Luckily I can usually rely on some pretty cool back-up troops to help me out on these occasions. Last week I had to go to a summer camp on the west side of Chicago to do a presentation for a couple of groups so I packed up some Hissing Cockroaches, a Hermit Crab, an American Toad, a Box Turtle, a Corn Snake and my little buddy Diesel, the Rat.
Diesel is still very much a celebrity in training and this was actually his first trip off site to see a large group of children, although truth be known he was probably far less apprehensive than I was! Anyway we traveled to the site and did our 'thing'. All the animals behaved impeccably, no one pooped or bit or did anything untoward and the kids all seemed pretty happy and so it was with a large sigh of relief that I headed back to the Museum with my mini menagerie, quite happy to have got that task behind me.
A few days later I was checking my mail box which rarely has anything in it except for bills and was astonished to find it bulging with mail. What a surprise!
Dozens and dozens of notes and pictures from all the children! I read through them all and although I would like to show them all that would just go on for ever so I just tried to select some of my favorites.
The Hissing Cockroaches
The Hermit Crab
The American Toad
And the Corn Snake
And the group pictures
But of course there is always one mega-star in any group who gets a disproportionate amount of the fan mail and that was our little rodent friend Diesel.
But just in case he gets too full of himself, in amongst all the wonderful letters that the children wrote there was one from a little girl who very sweetly explained that her favorite animal is a giraffe and that rats make her throw-up! Hmmm how come I didn't notice that happening during my presentation!!??
Photo Credits - CJT
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