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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Reptile Wrangler

Today the children and I went to the last Reading Program for the summer, we really had a good time. I met Ken and his son Zack, what a wonderful program they put on. He reminds me so much of Steve Irwin. My boy's we're so thrilled to see all the reptiles and learned so much today. Just wanted to share.......

Ken Panse, "Reptile Wrangler"

Ken Panse and his alligator associate smile for the camera. Panse takes his critters — which include show star Igzilla the iguana (far below) and some nonreptiles, such as the tarantula below — to schools and parties.

• What I do: Crikey! Georgia has its own crocodile hunter.

Ken Panse, who bills himself as the "Reptile Wrangler," visits schools, state parks and birthday parties with his menagerie of snakes, turtles, frogs, lizards, iguanas, tarantulas and even an alligator to educate and entertain children and their parents and teachers. He has written a book and is pitching a pilot for a television show.

Panse (pronounced "pans") even looks a bit like the late, celebrated crocodile hunter Steve Irwin.

Panse, 46, loads his critters — that's what he calls them — into cloth sacks and wicker baskets for the trips to the shows.

"There are elements of anticipation, as things rustle in the baskets," he said. "I start small and end up big" — sometimes with his 12-foot albino Burmese python.

Kids love to handle the critters that aren't dangerous, he said. And a favorite party photo is a line of children holding a big snake.

Panse has acquired his critters at animal shows and through wholesalers. He adopted some of them, but most of the time he has to say "no" to offers of unwanted creatures, he said.

Panse has been doing his shows — several of them a week — for about 12 years. He started showing just exotic animals, but, as Georgia's state parks started focusing on native animals, he's added indigenous species — such as timber rattlesnakes, snapping turtles and tree frogs — to his collection.

Panse said he's often asked which is his favorite. "They're all like children to me," he said. "I can't pick one over the other."

But the star of the show is Igzilla, a 12-year-old iguana with orange skin.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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