By Norman Shifflett
Fort Carson Public Affairs Office

FOUNTAIN, Colo. - The Fountain Library became a "zoo" Aug. 2, 2019, where Soldiers, their Families and local community members interacted with exotic and domesticated animals.

Snakes, hedgehogs and other creatures occupied the inside of the library while llamas, goats and rabbits roamed outside.

The Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's (DFMWR) Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) hosted the event focused on children with sensory processing disorders that can be associated with autism or ADHD.

"We are providing them an educational opportunity to learn about the animals as well as giving them an opportunity to utilize their senses," said Tatyana Nunez, the event's director and an EFMP systems navigator.

This is the third time that Nunez has organized the event intended to provide an educational environment for children with special needs to learn about different animals.

"Our first Animal Adventure event was held here in Fountain and we had about 250 attendees last year," Nunez said.

Kathy Beers, owner and founder of Kritter Karavan, provided the exotic animals that were inside the library, and Stacy Cantu, organizational leader for the Fountain Farmers 4H Club, supplied the domestic animals outside.

Kids were able to interact with llamas, goats, African hedgehogs, a bearded dragon and many other animals during their time at the Animal Adventure event.

Nunez greeted the nearly 350 attendees at the front door, giving them a brief overview of the program and what they would see at the event. Volunteers also handed out free children's books to attendees.

"Personally, I think to provide this kind of enrichment is just invaluable. I taught for 33 years and I always had animals in my classroom," said Beers. "Nowadays kids don't get to see the
real thing or touch it, so I think that this is a wonderful thing."

Nunez said the goal is to have two events per year. The next event is planned for the spring.