Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
KALONA — On Tuesday night, the Kalona Public Library played host to some creepy crawly visitors.
Reptile breeder Josh Haynes brought several of his animals to the library for an interactive children’s program.
For Haynes, the program was all about educating children about the animals and dispel some myths about them.
“I enjoy teaching kids and other people about animals that a lot of people don’t tend to understand,” he said. “It’s better to understand animals and teach that so that the future of America understands that all these animals are not going to kill you.”
Haynes, who was assisted by Ash Robinson, displayed a wide variety of animals, including two tegus (a type of large lizard), tortoises, two pythons, small gecko lizards and even a tarantula.
Haynes said that he enjoys seeing the children’s reactions to the various animals.
“It’s usually the big lizards and the snakes,” he said. “Some of the tortoises will catch a lot of attention. The tarantula usually catches people’s attention, and they freak out when they see her.”
Speaking to a small group of fascinated children, Haynes said that tarantulas do have venom, but not enough to kill a person.
“You might have a bad stomach ache for a couple days though,” he said.
Robinson said that programs like this help people realize that reptiles don’t necessarily have to be scary.
“Scaly babies need love too,” she said.
Haynes said that the program at the library came about after taking part in story time with the library’s Director of Youth Services Olivia Kahler at a Kalona day care.
“I was invited by Olivia, here at the Kalona library, to do a reptile demonstration,” Haynes said. “Her and I have been hanging out every other Tuesday at the Kids Country Club during story time. Every week, I bring an animal.”
For Haynes, reptiles have been a lifelong passion going back to his youth in New Mexico.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 7; I’m 33 now,” he said. “I’ve owned a reptile shop. I don’t have a local business, but I do breed reptiles and go to reptile shows and sell them.”