Parrots and tortoises and lemurs, oh my!

Elementary school students from around Whitehorse got a chance to get up close and personal this week with animals they’d never see in their backyards.

Elementary school students from around Whitehorse got a chance to get up close and personal this week with animals they’d never see in their backyards.

Staff from two exotic animal rescue groups, Toronto’s Hands-On Exotics and Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo of Ottawa, are in Whitehorse for the 40th annual conference of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, running Sept. 21-24.

While in town they’ve visited 10 elementary schools, bringing along more than a dozen different animals including a python, a parrot and a lemur.

“The Yukon Wildlife Preserve does a great job talking about the native animals, but our program is specifically about exotic animals that they wouldn’t normally find here,” said Del Niedzialek, the director of Hands-On Exotics.

The purpose of the hour-long school presentation is to increase awareness and appreciation for animals around the world and promote responsible pet ownership, he said.

“Almost all of these animals are ex-pets. So they’re surrendered pets and lots of them are SPCA-seized pets as well.”

Aside from the school visits, the animals will also be at the Canada Games Centre this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The organizations are putting on multiple half-hour long presentations and allowing the public to interact with the animals.