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Lansing Public Library hosts reptile show for the first time since pandemic

LANSING, Ill. (July 12, 2023) – Featuring reptiles from Australia to Central Africa to Asia, the Lansing Public Library’s Crosstown Exotics Reptile Show gave kids both an exciting and educational opportunity. The event was held Monday, July 10, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on the front lawn of the library, with over 50 people in attendance.

Kids are gathered in the front lawn of the Lansing Public Library. Toward the beginning of the presentation, kids began to ask questions about the smaller bugs. Mike Levins, co-owner of Crosstown Exotics, first began the presentation with smaller cockroaches and scorpions, before moving to larger reptiles. (Photo: Reena Alsakaji)

Partnering with the company Crosstown Exotics, a traveling reptile and bug show, the event featured a presentation on various ecological and biological facts in different species of reptiles. The show began with Mike Levins, co-owner of crosstown exotics, showcasing different bugs, lizards, and snakes. From teaching about secondary consumers like omnivores to explaining the predatory nature behind the Blue Tongue Skink (one of the several reptiles showcased), the kids reacted to the animals with excitement, asking insightful questions.

With every new bug or reptile that emerged, each seemingly more exciting than the last, kids’ gasps filled the air.

The event was put together by the Youth Services Department of the library, and was planned since January. Prior to the pandemic, the library had routinely partnered with Crosstown Exotics each summer. It was for this reason that Beth Bozzo, the Director of Youth Services, was happy to finally put on an event that included hands-on engagement for kids of all ages.

Both kids and the accompanying adults learned about the displayed tortoise—its size, heritage, and distinctive features. (Photo: Reena Alsakaji)

“We like to bring in performers who can do what we don’t have the ability to,” Bozzo said.

The company also works with other libraries in the area, with the goal of educating kids in a thrilling manner.

Increased attendance for kids

For the Lansing Public Library specifically, the large number of people at the event highlighted another spark of enthusiasm since the pandemic.

reptile
Featured above is the Emperor scorpion, native to Central Africa. One of its unique features, Mike Levins explained, is its ability to glow under a black light. (Photo: Reena Alsakaji)

According to Bozzo, this summer has been one of the busiest for the public library, and especially for the Youth Services Department. There has been a large increase in attendance at all elementary aged programs — a trend that was reflected on during Monday’s night’s show.

“It just felt really good to see so many people come out,” Bozzo said. “My favorite part is just the excitement from all the kids. Kids get excited about touching these things, it’s before they have a fear of it. It’s fun to see that curiosity.”

Similar events are coming up at the Lansing Public Library. Dinosaur Discoveries will be held Friday, July 21. From 2 – 3 p.m., the T-Rex exhibition will include real fossils that kids can enjoy and learn about. Future events aim to feature a balance of keeping kids entertained with unique performances kids may not be able to typically see at a library.

reptile
At the end of the event, parents and their kids lined up single-file to pet a reticulated python, native to South and Southeast Asia. (Photo: Reena Alsakaji)

Visit www.lansingpl.org to see information about registration, as well as more upcoming events. The Lansing Public Library is located at 2750 Indiana Avenue.

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Reena Alsakaji
Reena Alsakaji
Reena Alsakaji is a freelance writer and a senior at Munster High School. She is the Editor-in-Chief of her school’s student-run newspaper, Crier. She is also involved in Munster Speech & Debate, Student Government, HOSA, Philosophy Club, and Poetry Club. Over the past two years, Reena has fallen in love with the Lansing community as she watched her mother go through the process of opening up a home decor business on Ridge Road (Cadou Decor). Reena hopes to broaden her coverage all over Lansing. Her favorite story so far is, “South Holland neighborhood group hosts Juneteenth event for hundreds.”

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