By Kim Hone-McMahan
Beacon Journal staff writer
Employees of the Akron Zoo carried two Dumeril’s ground boas onto the stage.
Most in the audience at the Akron Civic Theatre on Sunday grimaced — but not 8-year-old Lanaiya Jones.
“I like snakes,” she announced.
The Crouse Elementary School student was among about 200 adults and children at the theatre for the ZOOlympics, an interactive performance in which the animals compete with humans in areas such as speed, endurance and gymnastics.
The audience was introduced to a tawny frogmouth, a ring-necked pheasant, a kinkajou, a great horned owl and a scarlet macaw.
The bird shrieked while zoo educational specialist Todd Boerner talked about it. Boerner explained that the macaw, named Quick Draw, does that a lot — and confirmed that, yes indeed, the audience had just witnessed the colorful bird pooping on stage.
The crowd giggled.
Following a presentation about each animal, a zoo employee appeared on a large screen reviewing the facts. Children were asked questions and responded by holding up their fingers to reflect either a true or false statement.
Sitting on the left of Lanaiya was her little sister, Zainaiya.
“But we call her ‘Juicy,’ ’’ offered Dove Jackson, the girl’s 5-year-old cousin, who was dressed up with itchy tights and patent leather shoes.
“That’s because when she was a baby she was so fat she looked like a bottle of juice,” Lanaiya explained, grinning.
Zainaiya watched her older sibling closely when the questions were asked, duplicating Lanaiya’s answers by pointing either one or two little fingers to the ceiling.
The ZOOlympics, in which the animals generally are victorious over the humans, is one of about 30 upcoming family friendly presentations in the theatre’s family series. Civic Executive Director Howard Parr said the production was the first time that the theatre had worked directly with the Akron Zoo.
“It’s a great relationship ... a great partnership,” Parr said.
At the conclusion of the event, Lanaiya confirmed that the snakes were her favorite animal during the show.
“I have a snake in my basement. We keep her in the there so she doesn’t snake around the house,” the little girl said. “It’s yellow. It’s a girl and her name is Lulu.”
“You don’t have a snake,” interrupted Aunt Marguerite White when overhearing the conversation.
Lanaiya glanced sheepishly in the woman’s direction.
A girl can dream, can’t she?
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or email@example.com.