The Museum of Ancient Life at Lehi’s Thanksgiving Point has the world’s largest display of mounted dinosaurs, so it is.a great place to see reptiles that lived in prehistoric times. But sometimes it is also somewhere you can see, or even meet up close, living reptiles, too!
Scaly story times with Tales for Tots
Tuesday and Wednesday mornings toddlers and their parents flock to Thanksgiving Point to hear a story, do a craft, and sometimes, if they are very lucky, get the chance to interact with an animal visitor. Most of these animals come courtesy of Critters 2 Go, though sometimes animals from outside at Farm Country also come inside for a visit. In the coming weeks, there will be reptile friends to meet the littles at Tales for Tots.
On Tuesday, October 29th, the story will be Dinosaurs’ Halloween by Liza Donnelly. Then the children “will make trick or treat bags for a Dino-mite Halloween” but that isn’t all. Bratanik, a Russian tortoise, will come to show off his Halloween costume.The tortoise, who recently won the Best Costume prize at Orem Petco’s Reptile Rally, is dressing as a stegosaurus in a tortoise cozy made by Katie Bradley of Mossy Tortoise. He is a very friendly tortoise and a favorite of the children, so seeing him dressed as a dinosaur will be a special treat.
The following Tuesday, even the story is about an exotic pet.
I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff
Alex just has to convince his mom to let him have an iguana, so he puts his arguments in writing. He promises that she won’t have to feed it or clean its cage or even see it if she doesn’t want to. Of course Mom imagines life with a six-foot-long iguana eating them out of house and home. Alex’s reassurances: It takes fifteen years for an iguana to get that big. I’ll be married by then and probably living in my own house. and his mom’s replies: How are you going to get a girl to marry you when you own a giant reptile? will have kids in hysterics as the negotiations go back and forth through notes.
The craft for I Wanna Iguana will be making a foam letter I into an iguana, and there will also be another animal guest. This time, kids will get to meet Stanley Yelnats, the bearded dragon. There is also a chance they might be introduced to an actual iguana, the new and as yet unnamed resident reptile of the enclosure in the Museum of Ancient Life lobby.
This isn’t the first time Bratanik or Stanley has visited Tales for Tots. Bratanik and his aquatic cousin, Tortuga, the Red-Eared Slider turtle, regularly visit the children at both the dinosaur museum and the Children’s Discovery Garden for World Turtle Day in May. And while Jane Yolen’s and Mark Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? is really about manners at the table, the activity instead focuses on how prehistoric animals ate, by comparing them to modern ones. As such, a leopard gecko named Juno (a carnivores) joins Bratanik (a herbivore), and Stanley (an omnivore) join forces to let kids see first hand and compare.
Iguanodon makes a dino debut (minus the “don”)
This September, Thanksgiving Point employees and patrons mourned the loss of Kuma, the museum’s Savannah Monitor, who died unexpectedly. While the people will still miss the giant lizard, the big glass enclosure near the Expedition Cafe would not remain vacant for too long. On Monday, the new occupant moved in; a 3 foot long green iguana. The veggie-loving lizard is still settling in, and as such spend most of it’s time hiding, but should get more courageous and more visible as the days go on.
While a dinosaur museum might not the first place you think of when you want to see living reptiles, if you have small children, Thanksgiving Point might be a great place to meet a scaly buddy face to face. Tales for Tots is held at 11 am every Tuesday at the museum, and every Wednesday, November through March, at the farm. April through October, the Wednesday story is at the children’s garden. Admission to Tales for Tots is free with admission to the venue or, of course, Membership to Thanksgiving Point. As for the newly acquired iguana, it doesn’t have a name yet, but it is rumored that the museum plans to let visitors decide.
Reader question: What would you like to name the museum’s new creature feature?