Animal Planet hosts expo at Dodds Park

By Marcia Harris

On Saturday the Animal Planet Expo came to Dodds Park in Champaign. This year Animal Planet teamed up with cable companies across the nation, sponsored by Insight cable, to put on the free outdoor event. For fans of the Animal Planet channel and area residents, it was a day to get out in the sun and earn a greater appreciation for the earth and its creatures.

The expo featured events throughout the day, from virtual games that tested one’s knowledge of the elements of nature to a frisbee dog show. Previously abandoned dogs from humane societies across the country took to the ring to show off their best tricks. “Amazing Grace,” an energetic Australian breed, wowed the crowd by racing across the field at lightning speed for every frisbee. “Airy Carry,” a dog once debilitated by epilepsy, was able to leap seven feet into the air.

The expo also carried discount Discovery gear and had a personalized pet-tag making booth. The youngest attendees at the expo had a chance to crawl inside the mouth of a giant inflated alligator and venture throughout the inside. Deb Melchior came to the Animal Planet Expo with her children and brought the family dog along.

“My kids love animals. We liked watching the frisbee dogs and my girls loved the kids’ games,” Melchior said.

For adults there was an animal adoption booth and a “Friends of Animal Planet” booth. Friends of Animal Planet provided information on how local businesses could get involved and advertised for those who already had, like Animal Outfitters, Sports Vet, and Wild Birds Inc.

Larry Keller, President of Wild Birds Inc. in Champaign, thought the Animal Planet Expo was great for everyone involved.

“It’s a great chance to advertise our businesses and give out free stuff to everyone who showed up today. It’s really a great activity for families and kids,” Keller said.

Daisha Watson, 15, came along with her next door neighbor and said she enjoyed herself.

“I thought the kids’ games were cool. I would come back if they had it again,” Watson said.

The Animal Planet Expo will continue throughout the summer, making stops in 15 cities across the United States.