The kindergarteners filed into the media center at Welcome Elementary School, then at their teacher’s direction they scooted and shuffled and sat on a floor rug all the while peeking at the assortment of Rubbermaid boxes, containers and small cages covered in blankets and towels, hiding the main focus of the event just out of view.
Standing at the front, wearing a khaki wide-brimmed hat and sporting a goatee with flecks of gray and brown hair that would flop over his eyes, Chuck Alberding greeted the students and explained the rules – they’d watch a short film (he’d shot, narrated and edited himself) then get on to the main attraction, the various creatures hiding from sight.
“Cool?” Alberding said with two thumbs up.
The video, purposely corny and featuring a high-pitched talking panda doll, introduced the students to a three-horned chameleon.
Then Alberding brought out Karma, his own three-horned chameleon. Bright green and six-inches long, the chameleon sat on a branch as Alberding placed a food morsel within striking distance. The children gathered in close to watch and “thwap” out came his tongue, long and lean, and grabbed the snack 8 inches away.
The students howled with laughter and asked for a repeat performance.
Alberding took the opportunity to talk about the chameleon’s characteristics – what they eat, where they live, how big they get – then he repeated demonstrations with his stock of reptiles, lizards and critters.
He showed off a water dragon named Moss, a veiled chameleon named Bob, a fire bellied toad named Demetri, a Pacman frog named Jabba and for his penultimate demonstration he brought out his personal favorites, prairie dogs named Amelia and Frederick.
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