For a few minutes, at least, Katie Echols could relieve her mind of a little stress from the impending finals week. But the Metro Community College-Blue River student agonized over having to get to her next class after the noon hour Thursday.

After all, there were several cute animals to check out in the Campus Center.

Exotics R US, a wildlife education exhibitor that shows off unique critters around the Kansas City metro area, visited MCC-Blue River during lunchtime Thursday to provide a little stress relief for students – and some staff, as well.

“I need more time!” Echols said, wishing she could watch the animals a few more minutes before heading to class.

Among the attractions: a three-banded armadillo from South America, a wallaby, a baby goat, a red-footed tortoise and adult and 3-month old servals (a small cat native to Africa).

“It's a come-and-relax thing,” said Amy Slater of the MCC-Blue River Campus Life & Leadership. “We've had a crowd since they got here, and we learned a lot of information.”

Jennifer Kasserman of Exotics R Us said the group visits libraries, scouting troops and schools around the metro area, sometimes tailoring an education program for a particular audience.

Thursday, they achieved the desired response of sudden smiles from students passing through the building at lunchtime and plenty of smartphones held out to take pictures and video snippets.

Kasserman's colleague Crystal Harris let people pet the armadillo, which is different from the nine-banded one found in North America that is known to be a possible leprosy carrier.

Kasserman explained how the long-limbed adult serval, which averages 20-30 pounds and stands at least a foot high at the shoulder, can jump 8-12 feet directly vertical and is the third-fastest cat on the planet.

And like the normal house cat, the serval might playfully bat at dangling objects or a human hand it thinks is a toy.

That's the animal student Alexis Parsons most adored when she first noticed the crowd in the Campus Center. With a computer lab session beckoning, she couldn't stay long, but she begged out of class a little early to come back. The animals certainly can take one’s mind off course work for a bit.

“I love it,” Parsons said of the interactive animal exhibit. “I got to touch the baby (serval).

“My teacher, I know he loves cats. We said, 'We've got to go! We've got to see the cat!'”