The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Community

January 14, 2007

Critter Junction

A boy volunteered to sit with his eyes closed while Steve Thompson put some sort of animal into his extended arms and hands.

Thompson is the owner of Critter Junction Animal Adventure. He adopts unusual pets and rescues others. He presents a hands-on educational program using the animals that no one wants anymore.

When Thompson pulled a brown-tip, red-tail boa constrictor from a box, about 75 people in the Anderson Public Library room gasped, and let out a collective “Ohhhhh,” then snickered as the large serpent was lowered into the waiting arms of the boy, who opened his eyes and smiled broadly.

Thompson, a teacher at Valley Grove Elementary, presented his program for children and families Saturday at the library.

“At Critter Junction we want to teach you how to be responsible animal owners,” Thompson told the families gathered. “Too many times the parents end up taking care of the animal. Kids, it’s your pet, not mom and dad’s.”

Thompson discovered about three years ago the magic of animals as a learning tool. While teaching fourth grade he began bringing in animals and watching the excitement the children had. There were hard-to-reach children and difficult learners who suddenly responded to what he was saying. Today he carries his assortment of animals into the classroom and other public engagements doing about five presentations monthly.

Dawna King brought her four grandchildren.

“Seeing and being able to touch and hold them, the kids seem to listen,” King said. “It’s nice to have someplace they can go to touch the animals rather than having to travel to a zoo.”

Many people recognized the leopard geckos and golden geckos but didn’t know that each came from a different environment. The audience guessed the leopard geckos lived in the rain forest. True of the golden gecko, but the leopard variety come from the Middle East and lives in deserts.

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