As families file into the room, an excited buzz rises in the Allen Public Library Civic Auditorium as children wonder what animals they are about to see.
Covers of David Bowie’s greatest hits play over the speakers head-nodding his stories of Major Tom after the first lunar landing 50 years ago in 1969. The library celebrated the 50th anniversary of the landing with its theme, “A Universe of Stories.”
On June 5, Crystal Poyfair and her mother, Nancy Wright put on the fourth annual Repco show, a presentation where children see a variety of reptiles, amphibians and arthropods up close and learn about each animal presented while interacting with it.
To coincide with the library’s summer theme, Poyfair and Wright exclusively presented animals who previously went to space, including a gulf coast toad, a corn snake, a steppe tortoise, turtle, leopard gecko, mealworms and tarantula.
“Usually the first show is full,” youth services manager Claudia Wayland said. “But then the second show is anywhere from 150 to 200. Animals are kind of an an attraction. Kids really love the animals, so this is one of the more popular ones.”
Poyfair grew up in South Carolina with Anole lizards. From a young age, Poyfair brought home all sorts of bugs and lizards. As she got older, she branched out and trained in handling snakes and alligators.
“It was just typical southern, you know,” Wright said. “She would go catch some lizards, and I would be like, ‘No, you can’t keep them, turn ‘em loose. We don’t want them to die.’”
Poyfair travels around the United States with her family to different schools and libraries to educate children of all ages about wildlife around the world. She also visits organizations like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Humane Society to train volunteers and staff how to handle more aggressive reptiles like iguanas, snakes and alligators.
Poyfair said a lot of people will buy animals like iguanas and alligators, which are illegal as pets in some states, without realizing how aggressive they get when reaching sexual maturity. As a result, the animals are given to humane societies.
“One of the humane societies was Lollipop Farm. They had a bunch of iguanas that they couldn’t adopt out, so we took a bunch in,” Poyfair said. “That’s also where we got all of our alligators.”
Wright and Poyfair continue their tour presenting animals from outer space on the next holiday, World Oceans Day.