Tags: snake pr

Medusa Hugs

Terribly sad story... and why education about reptiles is so important.

Python Snake killed at St Bernadette festival

For approximately 10 years the employees and clients of All Creatures Animal Hospital have enjoyed an ever-growing petting zoo at the St. Bernadette festival. The purpose of the petting zoo is to raise awareness for the proper pet care by answering husbandry and veterinary questions for the general public, as well as providing an opportunity for people to handle exotic pets. The reception has always been positive and the Amelia community now eagerly anticipates the annual event. Usually there are a variety of different animals – including lots of reptiles, skunks, ferrets, rabbits, and goats – all screened to be docile creatures (except the snapping turtle and alligator).

For the past 4 years, Scott Braunstein from the House of Reptiles in Dry Ridge, Ky. has been assisting All Creatures in providing a large variety of snakes, lizards, and even an alligator for visitors to handle and observe. Scott’s whole business is to educate people on reptiles. His goal is for people to learn to appreciate and not fear the reptiles that share this planet with us. He discusses what reptiles make the best pets and which ones should be kept wild. Scott spends most of his time trying to convince people not to be afraid of snakes and reptiles, but to appreciate their unique design and beauty. He tries hard to train young people not to grow up believing reptiles are slimy or should be killed indiscriminately. All of Scott’s reptiles have very mild, predictable personalities, and they get handled very frequently. One 10-foot, 2-year-old albino Burmese python named “Popcorn” was particularly docile. Popcorn layed around most of Sunday afternoon in the lawn at St Bernadette while kids gathered around and petted the impressive individual. Adult spectators, while waiting in line for the chicken dinner, laughed and pointed at the snake – stretched out in the grass enjoying the mid afternoon sun. Towards the end of “Popcorn’s” lazy 8 hours at the petting zoo, Scott noticed that a young boy came up to the head of the snake and raised his foot. Scott asked the boy to back off and the boy replied, “I hate snakes.” Scott said that was fine and to just leave the snake alone, he wasn’t bothering anybody, and he told the boy to back off and go somewhere else. Then, without warning, the boy sneaked up on the big snake, and stomped his foot on the snake’s head. The snake’s spine was severed at the base of his skull from the force of the boy’s stomp, and the snake rolled and convulsed before expiring his last breath. His father who, obviously embarrassed, grabbed the boy’s hand and pulled him back into the festival crowd accompanied the boy. The only words said by the boys father were - “that’s why I can’t take you anywhere.” The father and his son were not seen anywhere near the petting zoo and never once appeared concerned that they had just killed this large beautiful reptile. Scott shook his head is disgust, loaded his deceased snake into a box and packed up his remaining reptiles for the long drive back to Dry Ridge.

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All wild animals and especially reptiles deserve our respect. We need to protect them and educate our children about them. Now only “Popcorn’s” skin will be used for future reptile educational seminars with the House of Reptiles. And one less live albino python snake in the world may not make a big difference in future generations of reptiles. But maybe the readers of this story will think of “Popcorn” and be an example to a child the next time they see a snake on the road and stop their car and let it pass. Maybe someone who held “Popcorn” and witnessed no aggression will stop someone before they reach for the hoe to kill a defenseless garter snake in their garden. Perhaps a child, who admired Popcorns beauty, will pass on to other children or students the importance of protecting reptiles from needless harm. Reptiles need our help to survive for our future generations to enjoy and see God’s nature through their beauty.

Dr Dan Meakin - All Creatures Animal Hospital, Amelia