By Grace Wong, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

ONTARIO – Snorting and shaking, a small crate with a brown blanket draped over it sat on the ground as Cheryl Rendes from Wonders of Wildlife wrestled with its contents.

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Finally, a shaky-legged, hairy potbellied pig emerged, grunting in protest from being woken up from its nap.

“This is Carnita,” Rendes said to a group of children, ages ranging from 5 to 11.

The program was part of Reach Out’s Nurturing Parenting Program at Veteran’s Park Thursday afternoon and aimed to teach the children about animal care and empathy as well as celebrating the 26th annual “America’s Family Pet Expo” which will be coming to the OC Fair and Event Center April 10 through 12.

“The children learn empathy and gentleness and responsibility of the pets,” said Vivan Haus, child facilitator. “I’m so thankful for such a beautiful time for these children.”

Throughout the presentation, a dozen children eagerly pet a bunny, a monitor lizard, a snake and a chicken while Rendes explained how Wonders of Wildlife came into care of the animals and each of their needs. Other animals were shown and talked about as well.

“You can care for an animal and show compassion for an animal and that translates into how you feel about people,” Rendes said.

For many of the children, seeing a live monitor lizard and being able to touch it was their favorite part.

“It’s sad that some people don’t like animals,” said Meyder Miguel, 11 of Ontario.

But for others, it was the fluffier counterparts that piqued their interests. But despite the bunny being her favorite animal, Lillian Astudillo, 8 of Ontario, said she learned the most about the pig.

“I didn’t know that you could have them as a pet and that you could train them,” she said. “I want to get a pig and I’m going to teach it how to sit!”For more information about the Pet Expo, visit petexpooc.org and for more information about Wonders of Wildlife, call 714-992-4969.