Seniors see animals up close and personal

Jun 10, 2019

MARION — Most people wouldn’t say “aww” when presented with a skunk. But when Bethany Jakubson from Amazing Animal Ambassadors pulled Flower the skunk out of a container at the Benjamin Cushing Community Center, the skunk was met with a hearty round of “awwws.”

Jakubson showed seniors various animals on June 10, telling them a plethora of facts about the critters she presented and answering animal questions. 

Attendees met “Big red,” an iguana-like lizard called a Tegu, which is native to South America. Jakubson told them that the tegu doesn’t chew the insect and egg bases “sausages” she is presented, she just swallows them. Her favorite food, though is scrambled eggs. 

Jakubson told the audience that snakes actually have tiny tails in comparison with their bodies, and taught them the difference between legless lizards and snakes. 

The animal ambassador also had plenty of skunk facts when she pulled out Flower. She said that skunks used to be more widely kept as pets, but now the closest state where they can be kept is Pennsylvania. 

Despite their bad reputations, skunks really just like to hang out and eat. They have terrible eyesight, but a great sense of smell. The noxious mammals actually only produce a teaspoon of the liquid that gives them their signature scent at a time, and if they use it all up it can take up to ten days to replace. So, skunks are strategic and will aim for eyes if they have to spray. 

After Jakubson made skunks sound so adorable, many seniors were upset that they legally could not pet the skunk. 

The animal expert said that most predators avoid skunks because the smell can alert their prey they are coming. The exception is owls, because they have little sense of smell and an invisible eyelid that protects them from the spray. 

Her next animal was Dracula, the Great Horned Owl. Jakubson said that owls have such flexible necks because their eyes are so big that they have no room for muscles to move them. This also limits their brain size. They also have flat faces to be able to hear better. 

After Jakubson’s presentation of Flower, Dracula, Big red and other animals, seniors had a chance to interact with some of the animals if they wanted to.