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As part of the library's summer learning program, children got up close and personal with exotic species. 

A sea of children erupted into a chorus of gasps as they stared into the eyes of an anaconda snake dangling in front of them.

On Thursday, July 28, a crowd of community members gathered at Memorial Park for the last Thursday Fun Show of the summer, hosted by the Wilsonville Public Library.

The event was part of the children's summer reading program, where every Thursday morning the librarians invited special guests ranging from jugglers to clowns as a way to introduce youth to new subjects. PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Selected children got the opportunity to hold one of the reptiles.

About 80 people gathered under the park's heritage trees Thursday to learn from Rich "The Reptile Man" Ritchey, as he shared facts about the exotic animals while also letting kids meet and touch them.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Rich "the Reptile Man" Ritchey brought an assortment of snakes.

"I've brought with me some friendly reptiles, and some are (not so friendly); one is even known to chase people. So if you want to back up — now's your chance," Ritchey said.

In response, the entire front row of children scooted back a few inches.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - The interactive library event drew children of all ages.

Some of the animals introduced were a tortoise, baby alligators, lizards and a couple of snakes — but the main event was the giant anaconda, which Richey let selected volunteers get close to.

PMG PHOTO: MIA RYDER-MARKS - Children got the chance to hold the anaconda, while their peers walked by and petted the large reptile.

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