Kids get acquainted with the wild side at library’s summer reading program

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2016



The Gilbert H. Gragg Library was alive with squeals of delight Monday morning as children in the summer reading program responded to John Ham, lead naturalist of Animal Tales. He presented an educational program about wild animals, their habits and how to treat them.

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He brought with him an Egyptian fruit bat, a Brazilian rainbow snake, a rat, a falcon and a 5-1/2 month old red kangaroo to illustrate his presentation.

Ham’s extensive background with animals began at age 16, when he began working at the Birmingham Zoo. He became an experienced children’s zoo and bird keeper and went on to study biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. He worked at Reptiland, a facility in Pennsylvania that specializes in reptiles, particularly native and exotic venomous snakes. He joined Animal Tales in 2009, and travels to schools and libraries giving instructional programs for children.

His familiarity with the animals was easily communicated to the children who gave rapt attention to his presentation and eagerly volunteered as participants, even at the close of the program when children were invited to come up touch the snake as Ham held it.