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Press: Reptile show-and-tell captivates school

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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on February 09, 2001 at 06:19:11:

(Photo: Matthew Findley holds a reticulated python so that Lucille Moore Elementary School students can touch it on Thursday, during a show by the Bay County Reptile and Amphibian Society. Alex Irizarry, 9, is in the background. News Herald Photos: Robert Cooper.)

NEWS-HERALD (Panama City, Florida) 02 February 01 Reptile show-and-tell captivates school (Mohammad A. Faruqui)
Snakes, lizards and blue-tongued skinks - oh my.
The Bay County Reptile and Amphibian Society held a show and tell at Lucille Moore Elementary School on Thursday.
"This is a pair of African Fat Tail Gecko and here is a pair of Leopard Gecko," said Kira Burdeshaw, president of the Reptile Society. "They are unusual geckos because they have eyelids.
"Do you know the GEICO gecko from the (insurance) commercials on TV? That's a Giant Day Gecko and it really does lick its eyeballs."
She said the Giant Day lacks eyelids, so it has to lick the eyeballs to keep them moist and clean.
The school cafeteria was full of whispering and gasping third- and fourth-graders who were anxious to touch every animal displayed.
The Reptile Society gave educational handouts to teachers so they could encourage the children to research and learn more about the animals.
"There is so much information about every animal but it is hard to detail all 15 of the ones we're displaying in 45 minutes," said John "Snake Boy" Moravek, vice-president of the Reptile Society.
He said people who keep venomous or exotic animals have to be federally licensed after taking at least 1,000 hours of "handling training" for each type of animal.
Some of the exotic animals shown were boa constrictors and anacondas.
"I also have this Rose Haired Tarantula," said Moravek. "It has half-inch venomous fangs.
"But its primary method of defense, when a large animal attacks, is to release some of its fur into the air."
He said the fur would act like a respiratory irritant.
Members of the Reptile Society often help local police departments with rescuing exotic or dangerous animals that might be loose in people's yards.
"It's kind of a nuisance removal service," said Burdeshaw. "We then release the animal into an environment, where it can thrive."
Reptile notes
The Reptile Society meets at the Junior Museum of Bay County on the third Wednesday of every month, at 6 p.m.
Neighborhood nuisance removal can often be at the expense of the Reptile Society if an animal has to be taken to a veterinarian. So, most donations and collections from shows go to pay veterinary bills.
Source: John "Snake Boy" Moravek

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