Touchy – Feely – Fun

There are flying squirrels, tree frogs, chameleons, western diamondback rattlesnakes, and Nile crocodiles, all exotic animals living in Port Washington.
Located at the Sands Point Preserve is the new Amazing Animals exhibit. The exhibit is aimed at attracting kids and getting them interested in learning about various animals that they may never meet.
Bob Mendyk, one of the animal handlers, explains the attraction as “a blend between animatronics and life. This will appeal to kids; it is unique and interesting. It’s our opportunity to expose them to some animals that they would probably never see otherwise.”
The exhibit contains many robotic animals such as a ten-foot long rattlesnake, a Nile crocodile that is twice the size of American crocodiles and a Jackson Chameleon that is also ten feet long.
Along with these massive robotic reptiles are actual animals that are put on display for children to see. At parties and other various events, the animals are taken out of their cages and passed around allowing children to see and touch the animals. They are able to observe a chameleon’s skin change color with its surrounding environment, feel the slippery scales of a snake or come face to face with an alligator.
The purpose of this exhibit is to “teach kids about animals and wildlife conservation in a fun and hands on way,” according to Joe Ferrara, the coordinator of this project.
After a tour of the reptiles, families can go to the other part of the attraction and kids can get involved in a bunch of hands-on activities.
Among these are a Be-A-Vet station that has x-rays of numerous injuries that have affected various animals, and kids have to figure out what the injury is.
There is also a toddler play area that contains puppets and various murals.
Along with those activities, Sands Point also has what is called the Xeko Zone, which is an eco-friendly card game based on the popular Pokemon game.
Another main part of Amazing Animals is the Endangered Species Zone, which has materials from different animals that have been hunted and the subsequent products that are sold to the public, such as ivory and other animal skin products like belts and shoes.
The purpose of this area and the exhibit as a whole is to “show how fascinating and how precious all animals are,” explained Mendyk. “It’s also to show how some of these animals that are now prominent might become extinct in the future and we’re trying to make the public aware of this situation and what they can do.”
For more information, interested families can call 516-571-7900 or visit www.CSTL.org.

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