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Summer Reading Program brings zoo animals to Lebanon

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Children participating in the Lebanon/Wilson Public Library Summer Reading Program met animals from the Nashville Zoo on Tuesday.

Nashville Zoo Outreach Coordinator Robin Mahoney introduced youngsters to a few unique animals with one thing in common - they are all predators.

Vivid "oohs" and "ahhs" filled the room as Mahoney brought out an Eurasian Eagle Owl named Archimedes. She explained that males like Archimedes are slightly smaller than females, who can have a wingspan of more than six feet.

While onstage, Archimedes showed the audience how - and what - he eats. Mahoney fed him two small mice, which he gobbled down quickly as several kids applauded and others closed their eyes.

The next guest was Octagon, a Chilean Rose-Haired Tarantula. Mahoney said that Octagon got her name, which means "eight angled" because of her eight legs.

"The hair on her body is actually rose colored which makes her pretty," Mahoney said, adding that it also serves a defensive purpose. "She has hairs to protect herself. If she is attacked, she can shoot the hairs off her body and it would irritate the attacker's eyes."

Of course, Octagon isn't always preyed - she is a predator too. Tarantulas, which are the largest of spiders, can ambush prey and bite into them, injecting venom. After that, Mahoney said they can "suck the insides of their prey out like a milkshake."

"Anybody want a bug milkshake?" she asked, laughing at the varied responses.

The last guest from the Nashville Zoo was by far the cutest and furriest. Captain Carrot the Flemish Giant Rabbit moved around onstage while Mahoney recited facts about the breed.

"If you are thinking, 'This is the biggest rabbit I've ever seen' - then you are right. Flemish Giant Rabbits are usually 14 to 25 pounds, but Captain Carrot is on the smaller end of that. He is 15 pounds," she said.

The crowd was able to step up and take photos of Captain Carrot. Mahoney told them to come see all of the animals at the Zoo - such as the elephant and giraffe that were too big to transport to the Library.

For more information on the Lebanon/Wilson Public Library Summer Reading Program call 615-444-0632. Entertainment acts for children are scheduled weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The six-week program kicked-off June 4 and is open to all ages.

Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at

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