Beyond the zoo – Insect Safari and Reptile Man to present exotic specimens

  • Thu Mar 27th, 2008 7:35pm
  • News

by COLLEEN SMITH ARMSTRONG

ISLANDS’ WEEKLY EDITORIAL STAFF

Thousands of snakes, lizards, spiders, and beetles are invading the island – and the community is invited to come meet them.

The Lopez Family Resource Center is bringing two experts in the field of all things creepy crawly for an afternoon of fun and education with unusual insects and reptiles.

On Sunday, March 30 at Lopez Center, starting at 2:30 p.m., Don Ehlen of “Insect Safari” is bringing 2500 specimens, including exotic butterflies, moths, giant tropical insects, and one of the world’s largest spiders. Ehlen sets up displays of his creatures and answers questions while audience members scope out his collection.

After Insect Safari, Reptile Man, a.k.a. Scott Peterson, will present his lizards, frogs, invertebrates, crocodilians, turtles, and snakes, including a python, cobra, rattlesnake, and possibly a mamba. All venomous snakes have been surgically devenomized, and they can be pet and held. “That’s where he gets the thrill – having the kids hold the snakes,” said Patsy Haber, program coordinator for the Resource Center.

Ehlen has been interested in and studying insects since the age of five. He studied entomology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and traveled around the Southwest searching for new and interesting specimens. Ehlen moved to Washington State in 1989 and soon after began voluntarily showing his collection to school children. He started Insect Safari in 1994, responding to the encouragement of teachers that such a program was much needed to support insect study in elementary curriculum.

Peterson has performed for over 800 schools in the Northwest. Corporations such as Microsoft, Boeing, and Eddie Bauer have found his program to be exciting for all ages. Peterson has also appeared on Disney’s “Bill Nye – The Science Guy.”

“These guys are passionate in their field, and so knowledgeable,” said Haber. “Some of these animals aren’t even found in zoos. It’s great to have fun, family entertainment on the island. And it’s something you don’t get to see very often.”

All ages can attend the event; admission is by donation. For additional information on these programs, visit www.theinsectsafari.com and www.reptileman.com.