Friday, 13 February 2009

Sharon Tregenza: Master of the Zoo-niverse

We had a special event with Tarantula Tide author Sharon Tregenza at Edinburgh Zoo last week, and we've asked her to tell us a bit about the experience:

There were screams and squeals today at the educational department of Edinburgh Zoo. Animal handler Daniel captivated children and staff of Carrick Knowe and Leslie Primary schools with close up and personal introductions to some of the zoo's most fascinating inmates.

I was asked along to give a talk and answer questions about my Kelpie's Award-winning children's book Tarantula Tide so I was obviously interested in one creature particularly, the tarantula, Elsa. Tarantula Tide is about the illegal smuggling of endangered species so I was glad to see that Daniel had some evidence of this terrible trade. He showed us a belt made from snake skin that someone had bought in Nigeria for a few dollars. Although the tourist was unaware that it was real snakeskin he was still fined over five hundred pounds when he tried to bring it home through the airport. A really grotesque handbag made from the skin, head and legs of an alligator made us all shudder. This was just one of a consignment of over two hundred bags - two hundred animals killed senselessly for profit.

After we were charmed by Dylan the armadillo, had reluctantly held cockroaches and stroked the bearded dragon and the pythons we got to the star of the show, Elsa. Although we weren't able to hold her we got a close look at this beautiful spider with the rose pink design on her back. What a thrill it was.

It was a great day for everyone and I'm grateful to The Scottish Book Trust and Floris books for arranging such a very special venue. Check out these creatures at Edinburgh Zoo if you get the chance - you won't regret it.

Oh and the screams and squeals? They came mostly from the adults.

You can listen to Chris Newton's excellent interview with Sharon Tregenza here, and you can see many more pictures from the day here.

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