Had young Jacob Langford had the opportunity, he would have jumped on the back of a large alligator that took the stage at the Loma Linda University Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“I really liked the fat alligator,” he said. “But I was in the bathroom.”
His sister, Rachel Langford, and friends Juliet, Paris and Amelie Quave -- all elementary school aged children -- joined Jacob for the first Rumble in the Jungle, a program presented by the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation Studies Department of Earth and Biological Sciences at Loma Linda University.
The program was held Saturday night during the regularly scheduled Loma Linda University Church Vespers service.
As far as favorite animals that night, there was no shortage of choices.
“My favorite animal was the cobra,” said Rachel. “It was because of how big it was and how it made people scared. It was just funny to see the people scared.”
“I liked the bird,” said Juliet Quave.
“I liked the cobra and alligator,” said Amelie Quave
“I like the birds and tarantulas,” said Paris Quave.
The children listed off most of the animals that made it to the stage that night. A tiger cub was too agitated to come on stage that night. Its handlers decided for everyone’s safety, including the tiger’s, it was best to let it be.
A black leopard also scheduled to appear did not make it because he went to retrieve the animal from its enclosure at the Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Phelan, it “looked at me like I was crazy,” said Dr. William Hayes Ph.D. Professor of Biology.
Bad weather would do that to anyone, he said.
This is the first year they had a program of this kind, said Family Pastor Shawna Campbell, with Loma Linda University Seventh–day Adventist Church. The program is a perfect for the church, she said.
“Kids love animals,” she said. “God created these beautiful animals for us. To know more about these animals and to be able to bring them right here is (an advantage.) We have the opportunity to tap into everything at the university here. The church and the university, we work hand in hand.”
The university’s science department wants to open a lab where they have animals that ideally would welcome field trips, Campbell said.
Their hope is to be able to teach youngsters a love and respect for all creatures, she said.
“Every single one is important,” Campbell said. “Each one has something to contribute to the environment and to our well-being. It’s very important to take care of every single one of them.”