Reed City – Christmas vacation is over once again.  Trees and decorations are put away for the year and children are back into the routine of school.

One Reed City Elementary School class, however, were still anxiously awaiting a gift from their teacher.

Mrs. Pam Bloom was very good at keeping her gift a secret.

“I told them I wanted to give them something that couldn’t be wrapped or put under a tree.  They just kept guessing.” When students walked into the library and saw someone from the Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo and a tablecloth covering several cages, the expressions of excitement were definitely not a secret.

Kirk Eyla has owned the mobile zoo for over 20 years.  He and Claudia Hermann, take the animals on tour to various fairs, schools, libraries to show people animals they may not ever see otherwise. They are educated on each animal’s origin, life span, diet and habitat.  Usually a two man show, Kirk had the honors this time of both talking about all the animals as well as taking them each around to the students to get closer look.

The zoo, located near Hawkins, has about a hundred animals, of which 10 ventured out of their 70 degree barns to come visit with students.  Everyone was able to see each animal up close and have the opportunity to touch their fur or skin.  Most of the students were comfortable with the animals.  Snowflake the ferret, Kiki the cockatoo, Phoebe the fennec fox and the pygmy African hedgehog were quite inviting with their cuteness.  Even the three-inch Madagascar cockroach, Louie the bearded dragon and Oscar the American alligator got quite a few pets.  Edna, the 9foot Albino Burmese Python however, had many squirming in their seats, including a few parents.

As Edna wrapped herself almost completely around Kirk, some students gave a little shiver as the braved feeling her cold skin.

The finale was of course a little white faced capuchin monkey that steals the show. Seymour had the whole room laughing as he jumped all around and even gave Bloom a little love.

More than just a Christmas gift, this experience with animals comes along with a lesson from Whispering Pines, “You have to respect animals in the wild and pets as well.  If you get a pet you have to give it all the care and attention it needs, not only when you just get it, but for its whole life.”