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Christian Farm Boy Goes Wild:
by Linda Emmons for TCC
Life on the farm in central Illinois used to look good to Dan Breeding, but somewhere between Community College and Veterinary School, Breeding went wild – for exotic animals, that is. Breeding said he was prepared as a child to take care of hogs and horses, but found his wife and ministry at Moorpark College in Ventura, CA. Moorpark is the only Exotic Animal Training and Management program in the world offering hands-on experience. "They only take 50 students a year," Breeding said, "I was thrilled to get accepted."
Dan and Debbie Breeding graduated in 1995 and now operate Creatures of Creation and Wild Animal Encounters. Although slightly different in content, the presentations of exotic animals are used to create a deeper awareness and understanding of unique and often endangered animals and their unique design characteristics. Breeding, and sometimes wife Debbie, tour the country, visiting various venues such as libraries, schools and church groups, to bring a gospel message in an entertaining way. Even if Breeding himself were not entertaining, the exotic animals in his entourage mesmerize young and old.
"An exotic animal is any animal not indigenous to North America," Dan Breeding said recently after a presentation at the Hoopeston (IL) Public Library. Leeza, a young gibbon snuggled against his shoulder, appeared to nod as if in agreement. "I show the audience how these animals are designed to live in their special environments and allow kids and adults to get much closer than they could anywhere else." Pointing to Leeza, Breeding said, "a gibbon is the smallest type of ape in the world. See, she has four hands, no feet, because she lives in the trees. She never comes down to the forest floor. That's also why apes have long arms and short legs." Breeding also brought along a seven-foot alligator, a great horned owl, and a lemur. "Did you know that there are over 10,000 types of birds,and this owl is the only one equipped with silent night feathers?"
Breeding described the owl's nocturnal hunting habits, and the unique design of the owl's feathers to be totally silent, necessary for feeding. "Other birds sound like shuffling several pieces of paper together when they fly, but the owl is designed to live and hunt this special way." The alligator is the only animal the audience got to actually handle, however, that one day at a small library.
"The kids weren't scared at all of the animals, even the alligator. They were fascinated," said Janet Haggerty, who brought her grandkids along. "They kept saying, 'neat' and 'cool' and had their pictures taken with the animals … the kids were very attentive." Six year-old Brooke was reluctant at first to touch the alligator, but saw everyone else doing it. Haggerty recalled Brooke saying "It's so hard, it doesn't even feel real."
When Dan and Debbie Breeding aren't touring, or appearing on television shows with Regis and Kelly, Charlie Gibson, Fox's Hannity and Colmes or Bill O'Reily or helping with television commercials and motion pictures, including Narnia, the Breedings are at home in North Carolina with their three children, Taylor, Rachel and Logan, on a 25-acre ranch. "We have over 45 critters," Breeding said, "mostly rescue animals or donated by zoos." The ranch is not open to the public and the animals are trained to be part of the outreach programs. "Our mission is twofold, " Breeding said. "We have 'Wild Animal Encounters' to teach a secular audience about the environment and how these animals are designed, in an entertaining way, and we do the same thing with 'Creatures for Creation' in another way. Our number one goal is to reach people for Jesus." Breeding maintains that if you call yourself a Christian and do anything less, with whatever your life's work is, you stand in danger of being a hypocrite.
incorporates illusion, or "Christian magic" into his presentations. "I call it magic with a message," Breeding said. "I have been doing magic since I was 12 years old, and am thrilled that my mentor, Andy Dallas, is teaming with me to present magic with the animals." Breeding said that he will perform when Dallas is inducted as the new President of the Society of American Magicians on July 14-15 in Louisville. "This is a really big deal," Breeding said. "This is the guild that Houdini started and it is a huge honor."
Want to have the Breedings come to your church or youth group? Contact them at:
Dan Breeding, Wildlife Educator/Animal Trainer, Creation Evangelist
PO Box 345, Rolesville, NC 27571
or visit: www.creaturesofcreation.org.
To learn how to arrange a presentation at your site, phone:
1-800-926-7955 xtn 1, or 919-279-8897
copyright Linda Emmons, 2006
Linda Emmons is a freelance writer, publisher of Piece by Peace Communications, and editor of The Christian Compass and The Messianic Nudge Report. Her background includes journalism, publishing, and marketing. She attends The Rock Church, and homeschools her teenaged son.
Contact Ms. Emmons at firstname.lastname@example.org
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