In honor of National Velociraptor Awareness Day, Drew Night Life brought the Herps Alive Foundation to Drew to give students a fun, educational and hands-on experience with reptiles last Friday night in the EC’s 1867 Lounge. Drew Night Life also hosted a raffle, the prizes for which were a large plush dinosaur and a dinosaur-themed book, and played educational videos about dinosaurs in The Space.
The main attraction, of course, was the hands-on reptile experience, in which students were given the opportunity to hold and pet various species of snakes, along with skinks, tortoises and bearded dragons. Supervising the reptile extravaganza was Herps Alive’s executive director, Keith Gisser, who taught students how to handle the reptiles with care and offered a wealth of information about the reptiles present at the event, as well as various other types of reptiles.
“Part of our mission, in addition to doing rescue and rehoming, is education and outreach,” explained Gisser. “Although some of the cable TV channels have changed their tune, reptiles are still probably among the most misunderstood animals on the planet. So by giving folks a hands-on experience like this, folks get a chance to really relate to the animals a lot better.”
Students were absolutely enamored with the reptiles they were given the chance to interact with, and many listened to Gisser talk about the notable features of the species of reptile he had brought to the Velociraptor Awareness Day event. For example, Gisser taught students about the harmless milk snake, which students were able to hold, as compared to its venomous look-alike, the coral snake, and how to tell the difference.
“It’s still important to know what snakes are venomous and what snakes aren’t, and we do teach that a little bit with the coral snake and the milk snake,” said Gisser, talking about the importance of reptile education. “None of the snakes here are venomous, though. Obviously, being a hands-on program, we don’t want anybody to reach into the wrong cage. But we do try to explain the difference between venomous snakes and non-venomous snakes, and the vast majority of snakes are not venomous.”
The Herps Alive Foundation’s reptile experience truly stole the show from the raffle and a chance to win free things, which few students would ever pass up.
Students walked away from Drew Night Life’s Velociraptor Awareness Day event with both a fun, memorable experience and more information about some of the wildlife we share this earth with.For more information on the Herps Alive Foundation, which is based out of Cleveland, visit their website or check out their Facebook page. For news about upcoming events at Drew, check out @drewstuact on Instagram or the Drew Today emails.
Chloe is a sophomore majoring in English with an emphasis in creative writing and minoring in Spanish.