Monday, October 1, 2012

The Run Down: Sacramento Reptile Show

Event:  Sacramento Reptile Expo
Date:  September 29, 2012
            This year I was finally able to get some time and take my kids to the Sacramento Reptile Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center.  I was ecstatic to be able to take my five children to a show such as this, and my kids were super excited to see and touch all the reptiles. 

            We arrived in Sacramento at approximately 12:30 pm, and upon our arrival it was quite obvious that this year’s show was going to be huge!  There was a line around the block for tickets, and the streets were filled with spectators that had already purchased some rather exotic reptiles.  There is always ample parking in downtown Sacramento if you are willing to pay.  We found a parking garage that was a couple blocks away from the convention center that would allow us to see some of the sights of our state’s capital.
            After eating at Subway on J St. we finally made our way towards the dreaded line.  It moved at a faster pace than it appeared to, but with five kids in the heat it was a little more annoying than usual.  After about 45 minutes we made it to the front of the line and stepped up to the box office.  They willingly accepted my four “$1 off” coupons and after paying $11 for myself and $7 a piece for my three oldest children we finally made it inside the expo.
            Inside the layout resembled any other expo one may have attended.  My kids immediately wanted to find the albino alligator.  We decided to make a counter-clockwise loop around the exhibit hall in order to track down our quarry.  First we browsed through the Zoo Med tent, but it appeared as though only three hours after opening that Zoo Med was out of their goody bags, so we continued on our way.  We stopped at various booths looking at snakes and geckos for sale until we cam to Bob’s Reptile Safari.  Inside we found many snakes and lizards, but there was a booth at which you could take a picture with an alligator for $5.  At that point in the expo the camera had malfunctioned and they were working on fixing it, so we decided to come back later.

            We made our way along the back wall past the food court just in time to sit down and listen to a presentation by Save the Frogs.  This was a part of the expo I had been interested in, so we stopped and rested our feet for a while as I listened.  But, the kids (as kids do) became fidgety and began moving seats.  Suddenly my oldest son caught a glimpse of something that attracted his attention.  And soon he was moving towards an alligator display that reminded me of a cartoon character floating when their nose picked up the scent of a pie on a window sill.  So I moved our little group to the exhibit and most of my children took a FREE picture with this alligator.  When it was my turn my daughter took my picture – but she really never pressed the button all the way – so no picture of myself with good ol’ Al.

            The next big booth that my children fell in love with was the Salida Middle School Reptile Education Club.  WHAT A PROGRAM!!!  These middle school kids were out there educating bystanders about various snakes, turtles, and lizards.  It was great.  I figured it would be okay for my kids to spend their hard earned money on the little trinkets they were selling to support their club.  Each of my children came home with some little memory of this booth.  They also had a viewing table, which held a juvenile ball python, to which magnifiers were attached so little children could observe this animal’s features under a “microscope.  My children stayed at this very large and activity filled booth for the majority of our time.  They colored free pictures, got their faces painted, bought reptile themed souvenirs, collected cards that had shed reptile scales, and petted the ball python.  Before we moved on to the next display my daughter made a donation to the club from her own money, which made me very proud.

            After moving on from the Reptile Education Club booth I was wondering if there would be any more experiences similar to the one we had at that great booth.  We moved towards a large crowd and discovered the Venomous Snakes booth.  It was interesting, but lacked some fanfare that could have held my kids interest.  They had several types of rattlesnakes and vipers of smallish size.  I was impressed that my middle son recognized a diamond back rattlesnake from some show he had watched recently on NatGeo.  My youngest two kids were terrified of these menacing snakes, so we moved on to the next large crowd.
            Finally…the Albino Alligator!  Inside a wooden pen we discovered the Albino Alligator we had been searching for plus several old desert tortoises, another alligator who had lost its tail in a fight, and a curious Asian Monitor lizard.  While the Albino Alligator lay on the lap of its handler and was not available to be petted, my kids did interact with the tortoises and the monitor.  They handlers reminded all the spectators not to touch the animals up around their heads, but I thought it curious that the monitor was able to stick its head out of the fence and “taste/smell” the child sitting next to us!  Another great exhibit, I just wish it hadn’t had been so crowded when we were there.
            We wandered around some more and I found the Save the Frogs booth that had great information on Dendrobatids and other endangered amphibians.  I bought a cool “Save the Frogs” band and my kids colored free pictures.  There was a lot of literature and cool bookmark and postcards for free at this display as well.  The staff was very friendly.

            Before leaving the expo we decided to hit the Reptile Education Club booth one more time.  As my kids played there I went looking for a bag to put all our goodies in, and upon finding a booth that actually had some bags left, I had a neat conversation with the proprietors.  Apparently last year all the visitors were buying snakes, but this year’s hot ticket item was little baby tortoises.  I had noticed a ton of people carrying them in clear containers.  The staff at the booth were telling me that the previous year it seemed as though everyone had a snake around there neck, but this year everyone was snatching up the baby tortoises (as did they).  I ask about the issues on owning such a large animal, and the staff told me that they had ones that stayed small.  I figured that must be the variety that people were buying, because a full grown desert tortoise would be hard to care for and feed.
            I returned to the kids’ booth to find my children covered in more face paintings.  As the younger ones were getting tired and starting to fall apart emotionally we all decided that our time at the Sacramento Reptile was finished.  It was a great day to spend with my kids and a nice way for them to learn a little something about reptiles.  And we didn’t break mom’s number one rule: Don’t come home with anything that’s alive!


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