Library hosts Safari Greg animal and magic show

By DAVID J. HARDIN
Cove Leader-Press 

Animals from around the world came to visit the Copperas Cove Public Library on Thursday for two performances of Safari Greg’s Magic and Animal Show. The event was hosted by the library as part of its summer reading program. 
Greg “Safari Greg” Carter is a mammalian biologist who has been entertaining kids all over the United States for more than 20 years. He is known in certain circles as the “King of Kids” when it comes to children’s birthday parties. He may live in Texas now, but he really perfected his craft while living in Nashville, Tenn.
Greg holds about 400 performances and shows each year, about half of them birthday parties. During his shows, he teaches children about animals, and about how important it is to know that these animals are wild and need to be respected in their habitat. 
Safari Greg began the show on Thursday by introducing the audience to an African tortoise, which was followed by the bearded dragon lizard, primarily found throughout much of Australia in a wide range of habitats such as deserts, shrub lands and Eucalyptus woodlands, and generally lives among rocks and exposed branches. 
His show continued with a much larger lizard and he asked for some help from the audience. Greg chose third grader Kadrian Gee who helped him introduce a giant Argentine black and white Tegu, the largest species of the Tegu lizard and is omnivorous. They can be found in the tropical rain forests, savannas, and semi-deserts of east and central South America. 
Kadrian got to feel the Tegu’s rough skin which helps protect it from predators. 
Greg noticed that Kadrian was very tall for his age and asked Kadrian if he could run fast, to which Kadrian replied yes.
“Here is what I would like you to do. Run around the room and I am going to let the Tegu chase you,” Greg said, upon which he pretended to put the Tegu on the ground to chase Kadrian. After realizing Kadrian—and the audience—had been faked out by Greg, they all laughed. 
The final animal that Safari Greg presented during his show was a Burmese python, one of the five largest species of snakes in the world. It is native to a large area of the tropical South and Southeast Asia. 
Greg explained that this animal watches for its prey, and can kill it by squeezing it to death or swallowing it whole. Greg also talked about the fact that the state of Florida is having a huge problem with an overpopulation of the Burmese python, and those snakes are eating and killing many different animals that are important to the state, such as deer and others.  
Many kids attended at the show, several of whom attend First Place Learning Academy in Copperas Cove.  
Roni Stofferahn has been teaching there for about a year and a half.  
“We come to all of the summer reading program shows. Some of these kids attend the academy only for the summer and some attend year round,” Stofferahn said.
Kadrian Gee is going into 3rd grade and was selected to assist Safari Greg.
“I thought that Safari Greg was really going to let (the lizard) go, and that I would have to outrun the Tegu,” he said. “I liked the show and had a lot of fun. All of the animals were interesting.”

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