It’s the closest thing in town to a zoo.
“And I love animals so it was the perfect fit,” said 17-year-old Jared Bates.
Bates and Vince Wickham are two of the most recent members to join the team at the Exploration Place and while the duo may have had different reasons to signing on, they seem to be sharing a passion for the cold blooded.
“I’m a huge reptile fan,” said Bates. “Ever since I was six years old and my mom brought home an iguana, I’ve been in love.”
As for Wickham, he’s always been an animal man, but it wasn’t until meeting Bates that his interest in reptiles really took off.
“Jared’s always talking about them and they’re really interesting creatures,” said the 14-year-old. “So it’s all beginning to stick.”
While Bates has been around the four-legged creatures since the first grade (he has a leopard gecko, a bearded dragon and a blue and black agama) Wickham is currently on a mission to persuade his mom to let him have a reptile to call his own.
“It’s really cool to be able to handle them here though,” said Wickham. “But I get a little nervous sometimes not long ago I dropped the lid to the bearded dragon’s cage and really scared him. I spent like half an hour holding him and calming him down.”
For both boys it’s the uniqueness of the animal and its behaviours that continues to fascinate them.
“It’s not your typical mainstream animal,” said Bates. “Plus the bearded dragon is so neat to watch interact, because he’s really into socializing, they’ll like watch you and follow you around.”
In fact it’s the study of the scaly creatures that Bates plans to dedicate his career to.
“I want to be a herpetologist or a reptile vet,” he said firmly.
As for Wickaham? “A chef,” he said laughing. “But you never know, Jared’s plan sounds cool.”
Meanwhile the two have it made with their sweet after-school employment.
“It’s been a great experience, we get to hang out with the critters the entire time. It’s so much fun,” said Bates. “And that’s why we’re here.”