The Newport Aquarium and some of its animal ambassadors visited Maysville Friday.
Students from Mason County Intermediate School and St. Patrick School filled the MCIS gymnasium to learn about several animals from the aquarium. The presentation was one of four throughout the day.
The Wave Foundation visited MCIS with four animals, a turtle, a lizard, a snake and a penguin. The event was sponsored by the Maysville Rotary Club.
During the presentation, Grace Kahmann, with the Wave foundation, talked about the characteristics of each animal. As she spoke, Amanda Anderson, also with the Wave Foundation, carried each animal around so the children could see them up close.
The first animal was a three-toed box turtle named Dorthy. According to Kahmann, the box turtle is the only specie of turtle that can go fully inside its own shell.
“The shell protects it,” she said. “It’s also a part of its skeleton, so when you touch the shell, it would be just like someone touching your fingernail. She can feel it.”
Kahmann also said the turtle’s age can be found by counting the rings around the shell.
“Just like a tree, a turtle has rings that show just how old it is,” she said.
The second animal was a blue tongue skink named Tina.
“These lizards are native to Africa,” Kahmann said. “They’re kind of like neighbors to the penguin we have here who is also native to Africa.”
The blue tongue skink was named for its bright blue tongue that it uses to scare off predators, according to Kahmann.
“She’s actually harmless,” Kahmann said. “But, when she feels threatened, she’ll stick out her tongue and the bright color will scare predators away. She eats snails and bugs, so a lot of people like to have them in their yard. She also likes really hot weather.”
According to Kahmann, the lizard can also break off its own tail. If it receives enough nutrients, it can regrow the tail, but it takes about a year.
Kahmann said the lizard can live up to 30 years.
The third animal was a ball python named Kaa.
“Ball pythons are very common as pets,” she said. “They’re not poisonous, but if they bite it will hurt. The ball python is a constrictor, so it squeezes its prey. It doesn’t get very large, so if it were to squeeze you, it won’t kill you.”
The ball python can live long lives. The longest recorded life span is 47 years.
“They don’t have arms and legs, but can still climb trees, too,” Kahmann said. “Their bodies are pure muscle mass.”
The final animal, and the seemingly favorite of the students, was a penguin named Simon.
Simon, a female penguin, was released from her cage and allowed to roam the gymnasium floor as students watched. One of the other members of the Wave Foundation, Josh Thompson, carried around a toy that the penguin chased, while flapping its wings.
As the penguin played in the gymnasium, Kahmann told the students some facts about it.
“A penguin can’t fly,” she said. “There are other birds that can’t fly, too, like the ostrich. Most birds that can fly have small, light wings, but a penguin has dense, heavy bones that are good for getting under the water so they can fish.”
Once Kahmann finished her presentation, she allowed the students to line up and pet the animals.
Ethan Kalee, a St. Patrick fifth-grade student said he enjoyed learning about the animals .
“I didn’t know penguins had to trim their beaks,” he said. “It was a really good experience. You don’t normally get to touch a penguin or a lizard or snake every single day.”
Ashlyn Sergent, an MCIS third-grade student said she learned a lot about the animals.
“I learned so much about the penguin, lizard, turtle and snake,” she said. “I enjoyed learning everything. I never knew any of that. That’s penguin was so smooth. It was a lot of fun.”
MCIS Principal Robbie Kimble said he felt having the Wave Foundation visit the school was good for the students.
“It’s something the Rotary, and Jackie Thomas, who originally brought it to our attention and they put this on for us,” he said. “I was excited, because I knew the kids would love it. It’s a great experience for the kids — especially those who may not normally get to go to the aquarium.”