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Stephanie Hodges, zoo educator with the Zoo at Forest Park in Springfield, speaks at an event Thursday hosted by the Adams Free Library at the Vistors Center.
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Daisy the Hedgehog is about a year old.
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Hedgehogs have poor eyesight but have a great sense of smell.
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Squash the Corn Snake is pretty easygoing, unless you are a mouse.
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Squash is a young snake but probably won't get much bigger.
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Sage the Rabbit was most likely someone's pet at some point.
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The hissing cockroaches are essentially garbage disposals.
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A few brave souls held the cockroaches.
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Hodges said Angus is a good traveling companion because she doesn't have to worry about him running off.
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Angus had a good day. A few pets and a few bites of the Visitors Center Lawn.
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Hodges said Cheese the Rooster is related to dinosaurs but has an attitude more like a sleepy cat.

Zoo at Forest Park Brings Animals to Adams

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Children had the chance to learn about some wild and domestic animals, such as a bunny and a rooster.
ADAMS, Mass. — The zoo came to town Friday as the Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center visited the Visitors Center with some of their animal ambassadors.
"A lot of people don't get the opportunity to see nonnative species up close and personal like this," said Stephanie Hodges, a zoo educator with the Springfield zoo. "We think it is an enriching experience to have kids see something they might not see otherwise and it gets them interested in conservation and could spark a new passion."
The program is part of the Adams Free Library's "Tails and Tales" summer reading program.
Hodges had a variety of animals to show off including Daisy the African pigmy hedgehog. Hodges explained that her quills work as body armor and make predators think twice about approaching her.
She said the quills are sort of like human hair in some ways and that like many people, hedgehogs often lose their hair as they get older.
"Some of our grandparents lose their hair when they get older. When hedgehogs get older they lose their quills," she said. "We have some at the zoo that look bald."
Squash the corn snake was also in tow. Hodges said Squash is about 2 years old as she pulled him from his snake bag, the preferred snake travel method.
Corn snakes are pretty easygoing and can often be found in cornfields. She said farmers like having the snakes around because they keep the mouse populations under control.
Sage, the 27-pound rabbit, was a big hit among the kids. Hodges said Sage's origins are quite sad: a woman brought the rabbit to the zoo after the rabbit hopped up to her during a walk.
Hodges said this is something wild rabbits typically do not do.
"There is no way a wild bunny would hop up to you and jump on your lap," she said. "She is the sweetest rabbit."
She said Sage was likely once someone's pet and was abandoned. Hodges did reiterate to the kids the importance of pet ownership and explained that with pets come great responsibility. 
She said Sage has things pretty good now and has an indoor-outdoor habitat with other rabbit friends. And yes, Sage likes to frolic in the snow.
Hodges had some smaller creepier animals to show and brought out a Madagascar hissing cockroach. 
Some kids stepped back in horror, but Hodges explained how important the little critters were.
"They eat banana peels, orange peels — things other animals throw away," she said. "They are like little garbage disposals ... they are really important to the ecosystem."
And, yes, they do hiss. Hodges explained that they have little holes down their bodies and are able to force air out to make a hissing sound. This sound makes them sound bigger and scarier to predators.
Unlike the cockroach, Cheese the rooster was a familiar sight to many in attendance. Hodges said Cheese pretty much has run of the zoo and often gives visitors a little peck, encouraging them to give him a cuddle.
She explained that chickens and roosters are sort of modern-day dinosaurs and are closely related to the giant reptiles that used to roam the earth.
Although Cheese is related to velociraptors, they don't have much in common. 
"He is your modern-day velociraptor who is falling asleep in Sabrina's [Hodges assistant] arms right now," she said. "Apparently he is half cat … he is a special rooster."
The kids were asked not to touch the animals but were allowed to give Angus the tortoise a pet on the shell. He was eating grass off the Visitors Center Lawn and didn't seem to mind.

Tags: adams library,   animals,   

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BArT Graduates Assured They Will Take Community With Them

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

Ndey Awa Touray delivers one of the senior reflections at BArT's graduation on Saturday morning. See more photos here.
ADAMS, Mass. — Before they went their separate ways on the final day of their high school careers, the 30 members of BArT's class of 2023 were reminded of the community they formed at the school.
"This class has always been about connections," Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School Principal Erin Hattaway told the crowd in the gymnasium. "Against all odds, you will connect with your community.
"It turns out life is a group work assignment."
Each in their own way, speaker after speaker reminded the graduates how good they are at working together and how close the class has become.
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