Lucas Miller, the “Singing Zoologist,” is no stranger to the Harker Heights Public Library. He has been performing there for years, entertaining audiences of all ages as he teaches them facts and tells stories about animals through video, song, and lots of props.
“We have him here all the time, for over five years,” said Amanda Hairston, children’s librarian. “All of his songs are educational. He focuses on things like ecosystems, endangered species, metamorphosis ... he’s also varied in his musical capabilities.”
Miller had one of his original videos playing as the audience for the first of the morning’s two shows —175 people — crowded into the room (the video, “The Wetland RAP!” can be found on YouTube).
Several children had seen Miller’s show before, but for many, this was their first time seeing him perform.
“You’ll be learning about one of my favorite things, and that’s animals,” he told the audience. True to his word, he peppered the entire show with questions for the kids while entertaining them with plenty of facts and music.
He first asked children about wildcats; one of the facts he told the kids was that the ocelot is the rarest wildcat in Texas, which launched everyone into the tune, “Ocelot,” which was apparently quite the fan favorite. It was accompanied by a background video of an ocelot who was singing along with Miller’s lyrics. The audience was singing along and clapping through the whole tune.
Miller went on to explain the difference between carnivores, herbivores, omnivores … and insectivores. Then, still talking about carnivores, he talked about the mako shark and used the mako as an introduction to the food chain.
The “Anaconda La Bamba,” had pictures of huge anacondas being displayed on the screen during the song. Some of the best lyrics were designed strictly for adults (the kids were too young to get the references, but it didn’t slow their enjoyment of the song): “The anaconda likes to eat women named ... Jane Fonda, and also James Bond-a.”
The final song was about the cheetah, aptly named, “I’m a Cheetah,” and Miller had the kids running in place during the song. Miller was running around the room, too, encouraging the kids to run in place faster.
Tired, laughing and talking a mile a minute, both children and adults left in high spirits. Some even stuck around to ask Miller questions, which he answered gladly.
Seven-year-old Lane Parker came all the way from Belton to see Miller’s show, and he was not disappointed. As a matter of fact, when it came to the questions Miller was asking the audience, Lane knew most of the answers, getting only one wrong.
It turns out Lane loves animals, and reads a lot of books about them. And while he said that his favorite song was the “Anaconda La Bamba,” he stated that his favorite part of all the songs was, “In the cheetah song, when he said ‘I’m a cheetah, I eat meat-ah.’
Miller said he has always loved both singing and zoology. With his degree in zoology, he said, “I was doing educational programming while working for the zoo. I loved (working at the zoo), but I decided to try to start my own enterprise.” His program travels to around 100 schools and between 50 and 60 libraries per year. His program is now entering its 25th year.
Some of his music can be sampled on YouTube, but it is also available on Spotify and iTunes. For more information about Miller and his program, or to see his merchandise (which also includes his CDs), visit his website at http://singingzoologist.com/