Reptile show lets students get up close to rare animals

The Owatonna RAD (Reptile Amphibian Discovery) Zoo came to Minnesota State University, Mankato last Thursday to perform three shows of their reptiles. Different kinds of snakes, lizards and various reptiles were the stars of the show.

At the Centennial Student Union, audiences of all ages, including students, staff and children, thoroughly enjoyed the show. There were about six to seven different types of exotic reptiles that zookeeper and RAD zoo director Jamey Pastica exhibited. Pastica has been working as a zookeeper for almost 20 years now and has worked in several other zoos taking care of animals.

The biggest reptile he brought onto the show was Lois Alberkon; a snake which is a species similar to the python which is about 8 feet long. “If he opens his mouth to eat, he can swallow something the size of a basketball and eat up to 110 to 114 pounds at a time,” Pastica said.

It is an incredibly strong animal but also one of the gentlest animals. Pastica also featured some of their corn snakes and a snake-necked turtle. “Very few zoos exhibit the snake-necked turtle as well as king snakes. Few places have them, so they are rare. Corn snakes and the bearded dragon are more common pets,” Pastica said. .

Some of these animals are rescued when people cannot care for them by donating them to the zoo. The alligator was one of them as a 4 year old reptile and is fed boiled chicken as food. She was one of the favorites of the series.

Ryan Leisto, the Special Chair of the Student Events Team, worked with his peers to plan this event. “We were looking for something interesting, educational and also fun. We were researching zoos we wanted to bring to campus and found a reptile zoo in Owatonna, and we thought it would be a good fit,” Leisto said.

Hasan Niwaz, a specialist in management information systems, found the show incredible. He was really excited to see different amphibians, although he was a bit afraid of reptiles.

Another student, Tiaraniet Feld, who is studying electrical engineering, said, “Although I was a little late for the exam, I couldn’t see the bearded dragon, but I really enjoyed it. the other part of the show.”

As the finals knocked on the door, the students were very busy. One of the students in the audience shared, “It was a huge stress buster in these difficult days.”

Many children came to enjoy the show and asked the zookeeper lots of questions. In the last part of each show, Pastica gave the chance to have an up close experience to touch and see them up close. It was a successful show overall and everyone was so excited to have this kind of show on campus again.

Header photo: The zookeeper allowed the students to pet some of the rare reptiles. (Ajay Kasaudhan/The Reporter)

Write to Debduti Bhattacharjee at [email protected]

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