Furry friends come to Champaign Public Library

By Features Staff

Families and kids can’t often meet a blue-tongued skink named Bella or an alpaca named Harley in central Illinois.

From 3-5 p.m. Saturday, the Furry Friends Petting Zoo came to visit the Champaign Public Library, which showcased a variety of animals such as a hedgehog, chinchilla and miniature horse.

Debra Moreland, the owner and operator of Furry Friends Petting Zoo, has traveled all around central Illinois, Chicago, Indiana and Iowa, bringing her pets to schools and libraries.

“I love to watch the people and their faces — the kids especially — they really enjoy being here and being able to touch something,” Moreland said. “As a kid, I always wanted to hold, pet and touch animals, so this way, kids can see something that they maybe haven’t seen before.”

The event was run by library volunteers, who were mostly University students in Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity on campus.

Nick Blevins, a sophomore in Education, spent his Saturday afternoon assigned to the duck. His duties were to warn kids and parents to be careful because although it looks harmless, the duck bites.

Moreland transports 14 animals by herself in one van to each venue. When they’re not traveling with her, they can roam around on Moreland’s farm in Princeton, Illinois.

Although she has a wide range of animals, horses are at the top of her favorites list.

“Ever since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve loved horses,” she said. “I have a variety of horses back home.”

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