ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In addition to the media, instruments, and cake pans you can get at the Albuquerque Public Library, kids and parents can also get up close to ABQ BioPark Zoo animals. It’s part of a program called “Animal Tales.”

The program came out of a partnership between the ABQ BioPark and the library that started before the 2020 COVID pandemic. “So, like a lot of people, we took that opportunity to kind of re-evaluate what we were doing…And we know that ‘storytime’ is very popular with the library crowd, so we figured why not take something that already works and use it to our advantage,” says Science and Education Coordinator for the ABQ BioPark Bethany Dunn.

The team that brings Animal Tales to the kids is comprised of Dunn and two other full-time staff members. The program is also an opportunity to tap docent volunteers from the BioPark to come help out.

“It’s basically a glammed-up storytime,” she says. “We’ll read stories and then we’ll bring different animals that are either represented in the story or other teaching tools that we can use to talk about them.” In one instance, Dunn brought a lion’s pelt for the kids to see when the story involved a lion.

Dunn says Animal Tales is one of her favorite projects to work on. “It’s fun! Some of the things with the highly pathogenic avian flu, we’ve been bringing more from our invertebrate collection, instead of larger animals, to these and something that’s fun is the kids’ reactions to the bugs,” Dunn says.

Animal Tales is offered at two Albuquerque Public Library locations a month, so if you don’t see your local library on the schedule, it should pop up in the next few months. It’s free and suitable for all ages.