The Chicago Herpetological Society's ReptileFest returns to Chicago after taking a break last year. And it's being held at a new location: Northeastern Illinois University.
Billed as the nation's largest educational show featuring reptiles and amphibians, the event includes a chance to come face to face with all types of slithering, scaly creatures, such as snakes, lizards and crocodiles. Creatures that are "frequently misunderstood," according to the Chicago Herpetological Society, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
“One of the things we want people to do is have the opportunity to see these things up close, touch them, interact with them, and learn to appreciate them as just the beautiful wild animals that they are,” Steve Sullivan, senior curator of urban ecology at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum said.
Sullivan said some reptiles actually make good pets.
“These animals, they have great personalities. Maybe they have a little bit different than a dog or a cat’s personality, and it takes time to learn it, but they really do have individual feelings,” he said.
The group's mission is to educate, first and foremost – this is not a sale or circus. They also aim to promote wildlife conservation and knowledge among amateur and professional herpetologists.
“We want everybody to know about reptiles and amphibians and appreciate them as something that shares our planet with us,” Sullivan said. “They can be appreciated both as pets and as things that live in the wild, in our backyards and live alongside us in the city.”
ReptileFest takes place at the Physical Education Complex of NEIU, 3600 W. Foster Ave., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10; $7 for kids ages 3-11.
On tonight's show: Longtime ReptileFest exhibitors and supporters Steve Sullivan of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and "Frog Lady" Deb Krohn talk about the event's educational mission and to give viewers a look at some of the reptiles and amphibians they can expect to see this weekend.
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