Tarter returns with Creatures of the Night show

Bob Tarter presents his annual animal show at the Bukka White Festival. (RAY VAN DUSEN)

ABERDEEN – Whereas Census data states the average American family has 1.86 children, wildlife biologist Bob Tarter has roughly 50, if you count all the exotic animals.

“These animals need a family feel, too, even if it’s a different species. I’m in charge of the family; I’m still dad and everybody has to know their place. Even if it is an awkward living situation,” Tarter said.

Domesticated dogs help raise kangaroos and an eight-week old bobcat plays with the family’s 22-month-old son under close supervision.

Growing up on a South Illinois dairy farm, Tarter was born an outdoors enthusiast. After managing an 8,000-acre in Indiana and researching waterfowl with Ducks Unlimited in North Dakota, he found the opportunity of traveling to schools showcasing animal shows with a Tennessee-based company. Soon enough, he had the option to purchase the company and in 2005, Tarter formed the Natural History Education Company of the Midsouth.

A regular fixture to the Bukka White Festival, Tarter will bring his Creatures of the Night program this year. The program features a straw-colored fruit bat with a 32-inch wingspan; an amphauma, which is a large aquatic salamander found in the Mississippi River; a nine-banded armadillo that can consume 1,000 fire ants per minute; a Virginia possum; a raccoon; and a bobcat.

Tarter complimented each of the animals with lessons in water quality, mosquito-bourne disease control and house fire prevention.

Tarter will perform two shows Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m.