Rep­tiles take over Wal­dorf West library

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: Tif­fIndyNews

Chil­dren and an­i­mals meet face to face at Wal­dorf West Library

A group of hiss­ing, shelled and scaled rep­tiles crawled over to the Wal­dorf West Library — and lo­cal chil­dren were more than happy to greet them.

On July 25, ap­prox­i­mately 100 chil­dren, ages 6-11, gath­ered at Wal­dorf West Li­brar y where My Rep­tile Guys brought 12 amaz­ing rep­tiles from Mary­land and vast ar­eas around the world. Chil­dren were able to learn about rep­tiles, their habi­tats and meet the an­i­mals in per­son dur­ing this pop­u­lar rep­tile show.

“We want to cre­ate a blend of en­ter­tain­ment and ed­u­ca­tion through ex­pos­ing peo­ple to a va­ri­ety of rep­tiles,” said Turk Oze­rol, My Rep­tile Guys rep­tile pre­sen­ter. “We want to dis­pel some of the myths about rep­tiles and pro­vide some in­for­ma­tion about what peo­ple might no have known about them. They are able to foster some in­ter­est about these rep­tiles that will make them take out books about rep­tiles and own rep­tiles for them­selves one day and take care of them.”

Ev­ery year, My Rep­tile Guys vis­its li­braries with an in­ter­ac­tive pro­gram that al­lows chil­dren to hold and touch rep­tiles. Dur­ing the pro­gram Oze­rol dis­played a bearded dragon from West Aus­tralia, red ear slider tur­tle, Milk snake from Hon­duras, North African spine tail or Uro­mastyx lizard, baby snap­ping tur­tle, a corn snake, a blue tongue skink lizard from Aus­tralia, a boa con­stric­tor, a black and white giant Tegu lizard, Big Yel­low-Foot tor­toise, and the large al­bino Burmese python who is only 3 years old and 9 feet long.

Kelly Wat­son, a Wal­dorf res­i­dent, said the en­tire rep­tile pro­gram was ed­u­ca­tional, fun and in­ter­ac­tive. Her son Jor­dan Lee, 10, said he was ex­cited to see all of the an­i­mals — but his fa­vorite rep­tile was the tor­toise.

“The chil­dren get to come out and see an­i­mals, be with other kids, and learn about an­i­mals, which is al­ways good,” Wat­son said.

Oze­rol said a ma­jor­ity of his au­di­ences are typ­i­cally fas­ci­nated by the col­or­ful snakes he brings, both large and small.

“The python is the big­gest of our crew and star of the show,” Oze­rol said. “We bring out a huge python and it is more eye-catch­ing. The fact that it is al­bino, which is not its nat­u­ral typ­i­cal color pat­tern, and be­cause of its size, it’s a big hit with the kids.”

Oze­rol said he de­vel­oped a per­sonal in­ter­est in rep­tiles early on in life. He got his first snake at 8 years old and has al­ways been around cold-blooded rep­tiles and am­phib­ians.

“I’m par­tial to the snakes be­cause I feel like they are the un­der­dog usu­ally,” Oze­rol said. “Many peo­ple are scared of them, but snakes are ac­tu­ally scared of peo­ple and we should ac­tu­ally re­spect them and even ad­mire them. They help us out and they serve a role in the na­ture cy­cle by prey­ing on un­de­sir­able ro­dents or serv­ing as food for prey such as hawks and eagles.”

Juanita Ro­driguez, a Wal­dorf res­i­dent and mother of three chil­dren said she en­joyed lis­ten­ing to the way Oze­rol talked about each rep­tile. All of his sto­ries, com­ments and fac­tual in­for­ma­tion per­tain­ing to rep­tiles were geared to­wards kids and easy un­der­stand.

Her son Aden Ro­driguez, 5, said he en­joyed touch­ing the snake but his fa­vorite part was see­ing the tor­toise be­cause he has never seen a tor­toise that big.

“My fa­vorite part when was he pulled out the python and the black and white Tegu lizard,” said her son, Is­rael Ro­driguez, 7.

“All of the kids were able to un­der­stand what he was say­ing and were able to grasp the in­for­ma­tion,” Ro­driguez said. “Zoos are typ­i­cally too far away and with three kids, I try to take them to as many free events as pos­si­ble.”

This was Oze­rol’s sec­ond time host­ing the My Rep­tile Guys events in Charles County. He said there is al­ways a large turnout in this re­gion and the chil­dren like the va­ri­ety of rep­tiles be­ing brought be­fore them as well as be­ing able to stay af­ter­wards to pet them.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

On July 25, My Rep­tle Guys rep­tile pre­sen­ter, Turk Oze­rol, placed a bearded dragon from West Aus­tralia on the head of Wal­dorf res­i­dent, Malachi Puller, 9, at Wal­dorf West library

On July 25, My Rep­tile Guys pre­sen­ter Turk Oze­rol brought a black and white giant Tegu lizard to the Wal­dorf West Library.

On July 25, My Rep­tile Guys brought a 9-foot long Burmese python to the Wal­dorf West Library for chil­dren to touch and learn more about.

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