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October 14, 2014
Reptile Day festival a success

The Reptile Day festival slithered its way back to the Virginia Museum of Natural History on Saturday, October 11, giving festival attendees the chance to view many of the cold-blooded creatures that call Virginia and North Carolina home, as well as the chance to see some of the most exotic and feared reptiles from around the world. Over 300 students took part in Student Day on October 10, and over 1,300 visitors attended the public festival on October 11.

Reptile Day presented a unique opportunity for visitors to see over 200 live snakes and other reptiles, while allowing presenters to demonstrate that reptiles play a critical role in the environment and, most often, a harmless role in peoples' day-to-day lives.  Visitors also had the opportunity to handle a variety of the animals on display.

“I want people to learn their importance to the environment and their importance to people,” said Mark Kilby, operator of the Luray Zoo in Luray, Virginia, noting that snakes in particular are not mean and overly aggressive like many people believe, but are actually gentle creatures.

Kilby has presented at every Reptile Day the museum has hosted, wowing audiences with his presentations that have previously included a king cobra, black mamba, giant snapping turtle, alligator and more. 

Throughout the day, animal experts displayed hundreds of live reptiles and amphibians that range from venomous snakes to tiny frogs.  Keith Farmer, of the North Carolina Herpetological Society, provided a large variety of snakes and reptiles that are native to Virginia, North Carolina, and the surrounding region.

In addition to the Herpetological Society’s animals, the museum displayed its own herpetology collection and Brice Stevens, a private keeper, displayed a massive, female, albino, Burmese python.  Michelle Stocker, a vertebrate paleontologist from Virginia Tech who focuses on the history of reptiles, was also on hand for special presentations.

The museum also hosted a variety of reptile-themed games and crafts throughout the day provided by VMNH educators and volunteers.  Food and drinks were available for purchase at the museum's PALEO Café.

Thank you to event sponsors American Global Logistics and River Community Bank.

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