On Tuesday, a crowd of more than 450 greeted the Reptile Wrangler show put on as part of the library’s annual summer program.
Wranglers Ken Panse and Zack Panse brought out six of the animals they have in their collection — an American alligator, Nelson’s albino milksnake, an Argentine tegu (a variety of lizard), a great pine toad, a red ear pond slider turtle and a giant chako tarantula.
A variety like this, according to the wranglers, typically makes for a good show despite fears in the audience of some of the squirmier creatures on display.
“People in general are afraid of spiders, scorpions, snakes, fire and heights,” Ken Panse said.
“We’ve got 3 of the top 5 things people are naturally afraid of. In our educational show, we attempt to dismiss the fears by giving out the facts about the animals so folks don’t have a fear of them later,” Ken Panse said.
Though fear is a huge motivator for people, Panse said that he sees bravery soar to new heights in the audience a few shows a year, when someone will overcome their fears and try to pet a snake or get a closer look at a tarantula.
“Probably five to six times a year, in a special setting, maybe grandma or whoever living her whole life being afraid of snakes, she’ll come up and actually touch the snake or hold the snake after being afraid of it for years,” Panse said. “So that’s a real benefit.”
What the kids loved seeing during Tuesday’s show at the library was the alligator — which many got to pet as they left at the end of the show — and the snake. Zack Panse said the kids typically loved the snakes most of all, especially one in particular that they didn’t bring to this show but tour with often.
“I say they like the python or the red-tailed boa, because they’re an 8-foot snake. They have a lot of muscle and a lot of bones and they like seeing how colorful they are,” Panse said. “And they especially like seeing wrapping its whole body around me like I’m a tree.”
Panse has been handing reptiles for decades and started his show 15 years ago. He said his son Zack joined him after graduating high school to help with the shows. The Reptile Wrangler is also hoping to open a theme park on the Georgia coast which would have a “one of a kind” reptile show that “no one has ever seen before.”
For more information about the duo and their animals, visit their website at www.reptilewrangler.net.