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AB Press: Reptile show a teaching tool

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Posted by: W von Papinešu at Tue Jul 31 08:16:18 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by W von Papinešu ]  
   

EDMONTON SUN (Alberta) 28 July 07 Reptile show a teaching tool (Carter Haydu)
Sherwood Park's Kaitlyn Pullishy, 3, could hardly contain her excitement while gazing at Little Ray's Reptile Zoo exhibit in the Family Fun town at Capital Ex on Friday.
"There's a big crocodile! They're sleeping! They are too big!"
Kaitlyn, curious how the zookeepers got the animals in and out of their cages, had no idea people actually handled the large reptiles.
"They let them out?"
Ray Goulet, curator of the travelling zoo, said even though all his reptiles are docile and used to people, whenever he takes the alligators and crocodiles out for demonstrations with the public, he makes sure their mouths are safely taped shut.
However, he said the bigger concern is ensuring the reptiles' safety while the zoo travels from carnival to carnival. Cold-blooded animals are unable to regulate their own body heat. So if they're left too long in a hot vehicle, they'll die.
"They can't warm themselves up, but they also can't cool themselves down," Goulet said, adding zookeepers must also ensure the animals' comfort while travelling.
All 15 show animals, including crocodilians, snakes, turtles and lizards, are transported in plywood boxes, each fitted to match the individual animal's size precisely. Goulet said reptiles actually prefer enclosures.
"They feel more secure in tight spaces."
The boxes are loaded in the back of Goulet's van, which is kept at a comfortable temperature, and the zoo drives to the next destination nonstop.
To ensure the crocodiles and alligators don't hurt themselves during the trip, foam cushions are placed in their mouths, as well as around their snouts.
"If they forget they're in a box (and jerk their heads), they don't hurt their faces."
However, he said most reptiles just fall asleep in the boxes.
Little Ray's Reptile Zoo interactively teaches children about exotic creatures while spreading awareness of endangered reptiles native to Canada.
"The biggest part of the message is to promote backyard conservation."
Goulet will be taking an extra lizard with him after Capital Ex. He picked up a female iguana with a bad mouth infection which had been left at the local humane society .
He said the animal would be part of the travelling show until it returns to the central zoo in Ottawa, where the iguana will have a new home.
Reptile show a teaching tool


   

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