People were spellbound Saturday as Allison Blankenship, owner of Zooniversity of Dallas, introduced unique exotic reptiles, birds and mammals.

We do shows at parties, schools and other functions, and we have over 100 species of exotic animals that we show, Blankenship said, showing Colby, her 12-year-old double yellow-headed Amazon parrot.

Colby was one of several animals Blankenship brought to a presentation at Nicholas P. Sims Library.

Colby will live to be over 80 years old, which hell still be around after Im gone and probably my children as well, Blankenship said, noting the bird has glands that give off oil, which she spreads with her beak over her feathers.

If she did not have this waterproof oil and she became soaked with water, she would not survive in a rain forest, Blankenship said.

Other exotic animals Blankenship showed were a Madagascar lesser tenrec, a tiny porcupine-looking animal and a western hognose snake, found mostly in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

Noting that the snake has markings similar to those of a rattlesnake, Blankenship said the hognose snake protects itself by play-acting.

Hes really a good actor, Blankenship said. If he is threatened, he shakes his tale and makes a sound very similar to a rattlesnake. If that doesnt work, he can sit up, spread the sides of his head and mimic a king cobra or he can roll over and play dead.

Other special animals included a Tanzanian chameleon, South American kinkajou and a wallaby.

For more information about Zooniversity, e-mail Allison@zooniversity.org, visit the Web site at www.zooniversity.org or call 972-979-9847.

E-mail Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com