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Animal Troupe Enthralls at White Plains Fireworks

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - The fireworks had some steep competition from the Animal Embassy’s troupe of exotic animals at the White Plains Independence Day celebration this Thursday. At least that's what kids like Shravya Ankam, 8, said.

Shravya, a White Plains resident, giggled as the spectacled owl Inca landed on her forearm. She said holding the owl, which is native to the Central America and the northern region of South America, was “cool” and didn’t tickle.

A glimpse of the yellow-eyed, beige-crested spectacle owl is extremely rare, according to Animal Embassy’s founder Chris Evers, who said the creature is extremely illusive. The Stamford-based Animal Embassy rescues abandoned animals that were smuggled into the country and can’t survive in the northeast’s winters. Their tours have awed kids all the way from Hartford, Conn. to upstate New York. The Animal Embassy’s first foray into the White Plains’ Fourth of July festival was successful, judging by the kids clustering around the carpet python and following the red-footed tortoise Cumbia up and down the hills behind the White Plains High School.

Animal Embassy always strives to educate kids about animal safety and habitat requirements, according to one of its employees, Keith Turcios.

“We tell the kids about the animals’ stories,” said Turcios. “You hear about the dogs and cats a lot, but you don’t hear about the tortoises that are being bought and smuggled...We try to bring light to the fact that we love these animals, but if we had it our way, they wouldn’t be here. They’d be home.”

The annual Independence Day has had animal exhibits before. However, this year’s visit from the Animal Embassy was particularly beneficial for kids, according to Adriana Camacho, 24, of Pleasantville.

“It’s actually really good to have kids interact with different kinds of animals instead of just pets that you’d have,” said Camacho, who held a red-eyed tree frog and crested iguana with her daughter Athena. “Like he said, nobody’s going to adopt an alligator.”

Camacho, who grew up in White Plains and works in the Westchester mall, said she always returns for the Fourth of July fireworks show.

“It’s the best and I have to represent White Plains High School,” said Camacho. “The thing that I like about White Plains is they have a section for kids.”

Do you have any photos of the White Plains fireworks you'd like to share? Email your favorite pictures from the holiday weekend to, and we'll put them in our Independence Day album.

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