Tortoises, turtles and snakes … oh, my!
The Mississippi Aquarium, based in Gulfport, will bring a menagerie of facts and reptiles as it visits the parking lot behind the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Coming to Columbus in the Aquarium in Motion Mobile Marine Van will be Bob, a ball python; Moses, a Gulf Coast Box turtle; and Katniss, a red-footed tortoise. The Mississippi Aquarium Road Show will be outdoors.
Tori Hopper, the library’s children’s and teen services and programming coordinator, noted the visit will help the library wrap up its summer reading program, “Tales for Tails.” Mississippi Aquarium Public Relations and Communications Manager Jeff Clark and Education Manager Lauren Fuller, Ph.D., are taking the van from Gulfport to Tupelo before landing at the Neshoba County Fair on July 29.
“This educational tour aligns perfectly with our three mission pillars — education, conservation and community,” Clark said. “We will be stopping in several cities along the way, educating them about the animals, conservation and what we do at their aquarium. We want the people of Mississippi to know about their aquarium and the educational and conversational efforts we do for the greater Mississippi community. It also will give children an opportunity to see some animals they may not see often.”
Children’s programs have been held Tuesday and Thursday mornings throughout the summer. Teen and adult-themed summer reading programs were also implemented by the library system, Hopper said.
Children’s activities during the summer ranged from visits from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Sciences to magicians to yoga classes to potters demonstrating their art.
On Tuesday at 10 a.m., a beekeeper will talk to children about her apiary and how she takes care of her hives.
The children’s summer reading program ends Thursday at 10 a.m. when Mother Goose hosts guest readers, WCBI’s Aundrea Self and her daughter.
The deadline to submit summer reading lists for prizes is July 31. Entries can be dropped off at the library or entered electronically through the website, https://lowndes.beanstack.org/ . The drawing will be held the first week in August. Winners will be announced on the library’s social media channels, Hopper said.
The teen summer reading program offered activities such as playing a human version of the classic board game “Hungry, Hungry Hippos,” decorating their own mugs and participating in science experiments.
This summer, adults participated in a walking book club, in which people walk along the River Walk and discuss the book they read. A brainstorming session was held recently to plan the next adult book club, Hopper said.
Hopper estimated that about 1,000 children have participated in the summer program so far.
“That’s not near our pre-pandemic numbers. … I think for a post-pandemic summer library program, we couldn’t have asked for anything better,” she said.