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Penguin visits Great Bend library
Tanganyika Wildlife Park Zookeeper Kiana Lucero introduces an African penguin to an audience Wednesday at the Great Bend Public Library. - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

“I petted a penguin!” said one happy child after a program Wednesday at the Great Bend Public Library.

A crowd filled the library’s large meeting room and spilled into the hallway as staff from the Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard arrived with a live penguin and other animals. It was the latest event for the library’s Summer Reading Program, “Oceans of Possibilities.”

It was hard for children to contain their excitement but they did their best so that Hannah Wassall and Kiana Lucero, an educator and a zookeeper from the wildlife park, could bring out four animals – a young African spurred tortoise, a bearded dragon (a species native to Australia), an African pygmy hedgehog and the star of the show, an African penguin.

Those who stood in line for up to 30 minutes after the program were rewarded with getting to see the penguin up close and gently pet its soft feathers.

The presenters shared some facts and answered some questions about each animal, including the fact that this penguin species comes from a warm climate with sandy beaches and can spend hours or days swimming in the ocean. Although the 50 penguins at Tanganyika may all look alike to those unfamiliar with them, Lucero said the birds have a pattern of spots on their belly and chest that is unique to them as fingerprints are to humans.

They grow to about 2 feet tall. The smallest penguin species, the Little Blue, is about 1 foot fall and the largest, the Emperor Penguin, grows 3-4 feet tall.

More library news

The Great Bend Public Library’s parking lot was also full Wednesday, due in part to the program. Children’s Librarian “Miss Amy” Mayhill reminded everyone that the parking lot will be closed for the rest of the week so City employees can do painting there.

She also noted that Tuesday morning Story Times for babies through children who will be in first grade this year have been moved to the basement meeting room. They start at 10:30 a.m.

“Our last two Story Times have had over 100 people,” she said, explaining that they needed the larger space. The library offers a Story Time for children in grades 2-5 at the same time.

The next special “Oceans of Possibilities” program will be a presentation by staff at the Sternberg Museum at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 29, for all ages.

For information about other library programs, see the “Book Nook” column by GBPL Outreach Manager Hannah Grippin on the Great Bend Tribune website.