HANFORD — Local children are invited to local libraries this week to meet some new friends – some with scales and eight legs.
Reptile Ron’s Animal Presentations will bring a variety of exotic animals to libraries around Kings County this week.
“It’s an educational, interactive very fun program,” owner Ron Guill said.
Guill has been doing the shows for nearly 20 years, giving children an up-close and interactive way to learn about animals they may normally only get to see on TV or at zoos.
Throughout the show, which typically lasts around 45 minutes, Guill and his team, which include Hayden del Fierro, Joey Lawrence and son, Cody, show off lizards, snakes, tegus, scorpions, tarantulas and other creepy crawlies while children “ooh,” “ahhh,” and clap for their favorites.
Guill said some of his snakes are as big around as a pencil, while others weigh up to 150 pounds.
It took about half a dozen children to lift one of the latter snakes Monday afternoon at the Armona branch of the Kings County Community Library.
“We have some kids who are a little shy at first, but when they see some other children touching and holding the animals, they usually open up and get involved as well,” Guill said.
Throughout the show, children get to come up and pet the animals.
The Clovis-based Reptile Ron’s has about 200 animals in total and most shows will have somewhere in the range of eight to 10.
Among the animals at the presentation Monday were an albino Burmese python named Sunshine, am Australian bearded dragon named Thanos and a tegu named Odie.
Most of the animals in the collection are rescues, meaning they’ve been abandoned, neglected or abused. The team at Reptile Ron’s work to rehabilitate such animals.
Reptile Ron’s continues its free local shows today, with a stop at 11 a.m. at the Avenal Library and a 2 p.m. show at the Kettleman City Library.
On Wednesday, two more shows will come to the Lemoore Civic Auditorium at 11 a.m. and the Stratford Library at 2 p.m. Thursday’s shows include an 10 a.m. stop at the Hanford Civic Auditorium and a 1 p.m. show at the Corcoran Library.
When asked what animal elicits the biggest response from the crowd, assistant del Fierro answered instantly, “The guinea pig.”
Reptile Ron’s has two of the South American rodents, named John Cena and The Undertaker. The Undertaker closed the show in Armona to the sound of “aww,” made by the room full of children, as if voting The Undertaker the cutest candidate of the day.
Though, one lone child in the audience let out a "eww" of disgust.
“Who would have thought this goofy little guinea pig would be so attractive to the kids? It’s incredible. The kids who don’t want to pet the snakes or lizards, they do backflips to pet the guinea pig. And even the parents love it,” he said.
Reptile Ron’s will open a shop in Clovis this summer, probably by July, Guill said, where people can come by and see the animals.