Arizona’s largest and oldest reptile show hosted approximately 12,000 Tucson residents

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Lizards, snakes, geckos and alligators greeted approximately 12,000 Tucsonians this weekend at the Tucson Reptile and Amphibian Show.

The show began in 2002 and is the largest and longest running reptile show in the state. Their goal is to not only educate people about wildlife, but to send them home with a new pet.

“You have to keep them soft and comfortable,” said Emma Thomas, 5.

You might think Emma is talking about a new puppy or kitten…

“We’re going to buy two dragons,” Emma said.

But she talks about her new pets, two crested geckos on the show.

“We came here just to take a look,” Emma’s mother Alicia Barnes said.

Wolfson said the purpose of the event is to educate the community about the roles reptiles and amphibians play in our ecosystem and to debunk any misconceptions or myths.

“I didn’t see any little dragons biting or breathing fire,” Emma said.

More than 100 vendors from across the country come to the show to answer wildlife questions and hopefully change the minds of those who are scared.

“The more we know, the less we are afraid of them. These poisonous snakes, yes you have to respect them, and you have to be afraid of being bitten but not terrified. They are behind glass. So it is very important to do that and realize where they are in our ecosystem,” said Russ Johnson of the Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary.

Wolfson said one of the main reasons he continues the show is to reduce fear in the community.

“There are more reptiles in and around the city of Tucson than virtually any other city in the country,” Wolfson said.

And to hopefully teach viewers like Emma a thing or two.

“I learned that we have to feed dragon fruit and snakes bite,” Emma said.

The annual show will be back next fall.

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Faith Abercrombie is a reporter for KGUN 9. Prior to coming to KGUN, Faith worked as a videographer for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and as a reporter and producer on the documentary on youth suicide, “Life is…” on Arizona PBS.
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