Reptile show allows students to get up close to rare animals

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

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

The largest reptile he brought in the show was Lois Alberkon; a snake that is similar species to python which is about 8 feet long. “If it opens up its mouth for eating, it can gulp something sized like a basketball and eat up to 110 to 114 pounds at a time,” Pastica stated.

It is an incredibly strong animal but one of the most gentle animals as well. Pastica also showcased a few of their corn snakes and a snake neck turtle. “Very few zoos exhibit the snake neck turtle as well as the king snakes. Not lots of places have those so they are rare. Corn snakes and the bearded dragon are more common pets,” Pastica said.

Some of these animals are rescued when people are unable to take care of them by giving them to the zoo. The alligator was one of them as the 4 year old reptile and is fed boiled chicken as her food. She was one of the most favored of the show.

Ryan Leisto, the special chair for the Student Events Team, worked with his peers to plan this event. “We were looking for something that would be interesting, educational, and also fun. We were looking for zoos that we want to bring on campus and found a reptile zoo at Owatonna, and thought that would be a great fit,” Leisto said.

Hasan Niwaz majoring in management information systems found the show amazing. He got really excited to see different amphibians, though he was a bit scared of reptiles.

Another student Tiaraniet Feld who studies electrical engineering stated, “Though I’m a bit late due to exam, I couldn’t see the bearded dragon but really enjoyed the other part of the show.”

As finals are knocking at the door, students were very busy. One of the students from the audience shared, “It was a huge stress cutter in these hard days.”

A lot of kids came to enjoy the show and asked lots of questions to the zookeeper. In the last part of each show, Pastica gave the chance to have a close-up experience to touch and see them close up. It was a successful show as a whole and everyone was so excited to have such kind of show again on campus.

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

Write to Debduti Bhattacharjee at Debduti.Bhattacharjee@mnsu.edu

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