Gamara, a snapping turtle, prepared to taste test photographer Chris Connolly.
It was standing room only at the Baldwin Public Library last Thursday as some 100 schoolchildren and their parents packed the community room to see South Baldwin resident Andre Richaud present his menagerie of “party pets.” Assisted by Desiree Prayor, Richaud, who has been handling animals for 23 years and cares for more than 200 creatures, including the famous groundhog Malverne Mel (actually a Baldwin resident), trotted out a parade of scaly and furry friends, including snakes, turtles and tortoises, chinchillas, lizards, frogs and more.
Richaud peppered his presentation with conservation information, pet care tips and animal facts as well as the occasional piece of life advice. (He said he’d originally wanted to be a veterinarian, but hadn’t maintained the grade point average to realize that ambition.) Children who were eager to handle the animals were allowed to do so, and even the more reticent kids (as well as a few skittish parents), were gently encouraged to join the fun.
Richaud’s Party Pets, many of whom are exotic animals rescued from disenchanted owners, tour the area appearing at schools, birthday parties, festivals, camps, nursing homes and other special occasions. The pets have also been seen on television and in various films and are used for pet therapy.
Find out more at partypets.com