Animal handler Mike Kohlrieser prompts a bird to kiss Starr Elementary student Rhianna Blossom, 10, during a Rain Forest show at Coy Elementary School in Oregon.
The Blade/Lori King
Five-year old Addison Csehi had never seen a tropical bird up close, until the other day.
A touring show called “Live on Stage — the Traveling Rain Forest” made a stop at her school, Starr Elementary, and she was treated to a big green parrot, which was part of the visiting menagerie.
“It said ‘hello,’ ” she said. And Addison was hooked.
The animals’ visit to Starr and Jerusalem elementary schools during the day was only a preview of the whole show that evening at Coy Elementary. Addison made sure she was there with her mother, Jaime Csehi, and brother Clark, 2.
“The kids were really excited about the animals they were going to see,” Mrs. Csehi said.
And see them they did.
Mike Kohlrieser, the show’s founder-owner, brought all sorts of rain forest denizens, including birds, snakes, monkeys, alligators, and kinkajous in a climate-controlled truck.
He said the program was intended to be fun and deliver a serious message: The planet is in danger. The rain forest especially is threatened by such human activities as logging, mining, and farming.
“Our mission is to inform the kids about the importance of conservation. We want them to see what we’re going to lose if we don’t take care of this Earth of ours. We have only one planet,” he explained.
The show came to Coy as part of the school’s Right to Read Week, said principal Amy Molnar.
“Our theme is ‘Go Wild for Reading,’ so our activities center around animals,” she explained.
The Toledo Zoo paid a visit, she said, and the reading included Maurice Sendak’s well-known Where the Wild Things Are.
Another visitor was author Rick Sowash, who wrote Critters, Flitters, and Spitters: 24 Amazing Ohio Animal Tales.
Hundreds of parents and children visited the school for the two evening rain forest shows in the gymnasium.
The lights went down and recorded animal sounds were played as the spectators watched a curtain bearing an image of a tropical rain forest. When Mr. Kohlrieser appeared, he explained that the rain forest animals were in danger of becoming extinct, like the dinosaurs. Then he showed off Peewee and Trouble, two macaws that were a huge hit with the children, who cheered and laughed as the birds said “all right” and “hi” as Mr. Kohlrieser addressed them.