Creepy, crawly, furry and fun

Iowa Central students greet exotic animals

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Josephine Quinonez, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, reacts to the presence of Purse, an alligator visiting Iowa Central Community College Friday morning. The exotic animal show was one of the events held to welcome students to school. Mark Szafran, with Mindy the Monkey’s Menagerie, makes sure Purse maintains his balance.

Besides getting to meet each other Friday morning during a get-together in the Student Resource Center at Iowa Central Community College, students and staff could meet a few animals that they might not have had as pets at home.

Like Purse, an alligator about four feet long from tip of snout to tip of tail.

Josephine Quinonez, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, not only got to hold Purse, she also got to have him rest across her back and shoulders.

“That was the craziest thing thing I’ve done in my life,” she said.

How exciting was it?

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Sahara, a fennec fox, checks out the photo she just posed for with Iowa Central Community College student Ivy Blenderman, of Sargent Bluff, during an exotic animal visit Friday morning held to welcome the students to school.

“I could feel my heart racing,” she said.

Then she checked it on her FitBit.

“It’s 114,” she said. “It’s usually at 60.”

The exotic animals came from Mindy the Monkey’s Menagerie in Round Lake Beach, Illinois.

Casper slid right into campus life and hanging out with the students. He’s a Burmese python. The bright yellow snake can easily stretch across three students with his head and tail having plenty of room at each end.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Casper, a Burmese python, snakes his way around Iowa Central Community College students Trinity LaKose, of Blairstown, at left, Amber Maday, of Granada, Minnesota and Kyley Passow, of Clare. Casper was one of a variety of exotic animals students could learn about and handle.

Trinity LaKose, of Blairstown, held it with two of her friends, Amber Maday, of Granada, Minnesota, and Kiley Passow, of Clare.

“It was scary but cool,” LaKose said. “I didn’t expect it to feel like that. It’s really strong. It’s all muscle.”

Passow and Casper seemed to bond well.

She was the only one of the three who said they might like a pet like Casper.

“Oh yeah.” Passow said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Landon Mathias, of Norwalk, holds Cuddles, a tarantula visiting students Friday morning at Iowa Central Community College.

Cuddles is not for those who suffer from arachnophobia. The fuzzy hairy tarantula is about six inches in diameter from tips of legs to the tips of her other legs. She has lots of cute hairs.

Landon Matthias, of Norwalk, got to hold her.

“I was a little nervous at first,” he said. “Then it was really fuzzy and I liked it. It was pretty light.”

While he got through the giant spider handling experience, he won’t be shopping for his own.

“Probably not,” he said. “It’s cool and all but I feel there’s better pets.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Ruby, an African gray parrot, looks around at all the humans Friday morning during an exotic animal visit at Iowa Central Community College.

The warm, fuzzy, furry and cute was well represented, too.

Sahara the fennec fox, a species native to the Sahara Desert that features huge ears for cooling, made friends with Ivy Blenderman, of Sergeant Bluff.

Sahara sat on her shoulder and smiled for a cell phone photo that may not have been Blenderman’s photographic masterpiece.

“It’s not that great.” she said looking at the image.

She did like Sahara though.

“She’s cute and fuzzy,” she said. “I don’t do snakes or spiders.”

While the students made the animals welcome, they also socialized a bit and got to meet people they might not otherwise have encountered in class.

Quinonez liked that aspect of the event.

“I feel more welcome,” she said. “I very much enjoy this.”