Students alleviate stress with exotic animals


Justin Belichis

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Gallery photos by Tyler van Voorthuijsen

With finals and term paper deadlines just around the corner, the idea of petting small animals may seem comforting. The Student Union Marketing Office hosted today, April 23, an exotic petting zoo with creatures ranging from a Geoffroy’s cat and a tarantula to a porcupine and a hairless rat. Animal Rentals’ owner William Hoffman told Spinnaker some of the animals have been featured in commercials and television shows. Here are some of the animals:

Ruby, African grey parrot

These feathered creatures can mimic noise and eat a diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts. Their life span is 30-60 years and they live in the rain forests of West and Central Africa.

Pokey, North American porcupine

According to Animal Rentals, the porcupine is covered with up to 30,000 sharp spines and their name translates to “one who rises up in anger.” Hoffman said Pokey has been featured in Illinois Lottery commercials and the pilot of a show entitled “Zombie Armies.”

Jesse James, Geoffroy’s Cat

Geoffroy’s cats are among the smallest wildcats on the planet and can be found in woodland and grassy areas of southern and central regions of South America. They are omnivores and have successfully bred with domestic cats, which created felid hybrid safari cat.

“When you handle these animals, you have a much better experience [understanding] what is happening in the wild,” Hoffman said. “My company specializes in the interaction [between] humans and exotic [animals].”

Animal Rentals is based in Chicago, but Hoffman said he and his animals are on tour with plans to visit South Carolina and New York after that.

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