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So Full of Life

“We are celebrating the fact that nowhere on the face of the planet do you find more of nature than in the tropical rain forest,” said “Amazon John,” as he began his presentation to students at Jane Ball Elementary School. 

Amazon John with his dog

Amazon John introduced students at Jane Ball to his own "Boston Terror," before moving on to the inspiring "Silly Safari" live animal show. 

Amazon John and his Silly Safari show taught students about the rain forest by building a model of the rain forest using real live students, and to their delight, real live animals.   The interactive program used the layer model to explore the diversity of tropical habitats and the characteristics of each layer of the rain forest. 

Student Hannah Wilck became the first layer, or floor of the rain forest as students learned about temperature, humidity, and precipitation on each layer of the forest.  Hannah was excited to find out she was going to be introduced to one of the animals that lives in the layer she represented.  Her excitement quickly turned to skepticism, and then right back to excitement as Amazon John presented her with a baby alligator. 

Hannah  Wilck and Amazon John

Hannah's trepidation is almost as big as her smile as she waits to meet an animal from the rain forest.

Hannah Wilck and Amazon John with Alligator

The second layer of the rain forest, the ‘understory,’ was represented by Ty Dust who was introduced to a beetle as Amazon John explained that conditions in the understory are perfect for countless insects that provide food for other residents of the rain forest layers. 

Alex West with Amazon John

Ty Dust with Amazon John

Ty Dust with Amazon John

Meet your beetle Ty!

Kali Christakes, was a little apprehensive about being a tree in the dense ‘canopy’ layer of the rain forest, home to “Jello,” the tree frog.  Amazon John demonstrated how quickly Jello’s skin could go from sticky; its natural state, to dry when he was outside his naturally wet rain forest environment.

Kali Christakes and frog

Kali looks very unsure of her layer inhabitant.

Kali christakes and Amazon John

Kali and 'Jello' got to know each other pretty well!  

The final and tallest layer of the rain forest is called the ‘emergent’ layer and was represented by Alex West.  Alex met a small owl who lives in the layer of giant trees that rise high above the dense canopy layer.

Alex West and Amazon John with Owl

Alex West looks very unsure of Amazon John!

Alex West and Amazon John

But his uncertainty quickly changed to a smile as Amazon John got a reaction from the owl.

Other students were introduced to more animals that call the rain forest home, including Evelyn Knezevic who was delighted by the opportunity to get up close and personal with an adorable kinkajou.  The small furry mammal, with a long tail makes its bed out of banana leaves and sleeps during the day.  Amazon John shared a very real depiction of the kinkajou’s desire to sleep during the day by letting the animal pull a t-shirt over its head to escape the light in the Jane Ball gym.

Evelyn Knezevic and Amazon John with a Kinjago

Evelyn really seemed to like the kinkajou!

Amazon John with animal

Kinkajou's sleep during the day...even in the Jane Ball gym.

The highlight and certainly the loudest reaction to any of Amazon John’s animals came when he introduced them to a half grown Burmese Python named Nagini, after the snake in Harry Potter. 

Kids  petting python

The students thoroughly enjoyed the exploration of the rain forest and left with an opportunity to pet each of the animals, including Nagini.  They gained a real appreciation for how delicate the rain forest ecosystem really is and just how full of life.