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Summer reading program brings wildlife to SCV

Posted: July 9, 2014 6:47 p.m.
Updated: July 9, 2014 6:47 p.m.

Jonah Onder, 7, left, and brother Eli Onder, 5, right, pet a Colombian boa named Princess Jasmine as wildlife instructor Ryane Parkins watches on Wednesday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze

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An excited murmur rumbles through the crowd as nearly 300 kids and parents watch a wildlife handler display Willy the macaw at Golden Valley High School on Wednesday.

Ryane Parkins, a wildlife educator with the Wildlife Company of Vista, Calif., asks audience members if they want to hear Willy talk.

“Willy want a...” she says.

“Cracker!” the bird answers, and the kids let out a squeal.

The Wildlife Company brought a sampling of animals from around the world to Santa Clarita on Wednesday for the Santa Clarita Public Library’s summer reading program. This year’s animal-linked theme follows that of the national “I Read Initiative”: “Paws to Read.”

All of the program’s events are free, funded by the Friends of the Santa Clarita Public Library.

The summer reading program’s events have become so popular, the library had to move them to larger locations such as high schools around Santa Clarita, organizers said.

Emily Cichirillo, a youth service librarian, said events like Wednesday’s act as a gateway to win kids’ interest in the summer reading program.

“Not all parents realize the importance of having their children read over the summer,” she said.

Some know the importance but face some challenges in the motivational department.

“The reading program is great because I need an excuse to make them read,” Jen Loftus said.

Besides events like the Wildlife Company show, the program also offers weekly prizes to enrolled readers. Even parents are entered in a drawing for helping to keep their kids on track.

All events are first-come, first-served, and children do not need to be enrolled in the summer reading program to attend.

For more event information, visit



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