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Youth interact with animals at library

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PAPER CUTOUTS: From left are Hadley Newsome, 3, and Liesl Schroeder, 2, both of Huntington, playing with paper animal cutouts.
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ANIMAL VISIT: Kai Dubuc, 4, Huntington, pets a rabbit held by Lori VanOver, co-owner Hoosier Camel Encounter. A cockatoo is perched on her shoulder. VanOver taught area students about exotic animals during the Huntington City-Township Public Library’s weekly storytime.
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GOAT VISIT: Children interact with goats at the Huntington City-Township Library.

By Jennifer Peryam - jperyam@h-ponline.com

Local youth who visited the Huntington City-Township Public Library Tuesday had the opportunity to feed and pet animals prior to story time.

“A lot of times kids don’t necessarily get to see animals face to face and it’s good for them to have that exposure,” said Library Director Rebecca Lemons.

The library offers storytime each week, which Lemons said helps children learn literary skills like letter identification.

Kids interacted with a variety of animals, like a cockatoo, goats, rabbits, ducklings, guinea pigs and even a llama.

Lori VanOver, Hoosier Camel Encounter, who co-owns the business with Evan Wall, showed children a cockatoo, goats, rabbits, ducklings, guinea pigs, a llama and a Scottish Highland cow.

“When we started this two years ago our main goal was to educate and show the children the animals,” said Lori VanOver, co-owner of Hoosier Camel Encounter. She said she wants children who interact with the animals to learn how to care for them.

Caring for animals is a 24-hour commitment, according to Hoosier Camel Encounter co-owner Evan Wall. “It’s important that kids get hands-on experience with the animals. A lot of kids who live in the city don’t get to see these animals,” he said.

Sticking with the literary theme, library staff selected books about animals that children could read during storytime.

Megan Keyser and her son, Leo Cornett, 3, come to storytime each week. Cornett was excited to pet the goats while learning about literature.

“I bring him to storytime every week so he can learn to read and interact with other children,” Keyser said. She said they attend festivals in the area during the summer where they see animals.