Archive: Celebrate National Reptile Awareness Day at the Detroit Zoo

Step into the shoes of a field conservation scientist on October 21

October 15, 2018

ROYAL OAK, Mich., 

Detroit Zoo visitors can explore the wonders of the scaly world when the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) celebrates National Reptile Awareness Day on Sunday, October 21, at the Holden Reptile Conservation Center.

Zookeeper talks will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Visitors can learn fun facts about these slithering species, their importance to ecosystems around the world and what the DZS is doing to preserve these animals, including the massasauga rattlesnake and western pond turtle.

“It’s important that we engage visitors – especially young children – in not only developing an appreciation for these fascinating creatures, but also in understanding that many animals are facing threats in the wild and there are steps we can all take in our daily lives to help save wildlife and their habitats around the world,” said Scott Carter, DZS chief life sciences officer.

Visitors can take on the role of a field researcher and “collect data” on massasauga rattlesnakes. Faux snakes will be hidden for guests to locate and safely pick up with tools before recording various scientific information and then “releasing” them. Guests can also use handheld computers called Zoomies to look closely at the different parts of a turtle shell to see the unique patterns in nature.

The DZS leads the massasauga rattlesnake Species Survival Plan, a comprehensive management plan through the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) that works to ensure the sustainability of healthy, genetically diverse and demographically varied captive animal populations. The DZS is one of several organizations within the AZA that participates in a long-term study of a particular population of massasauga rattlesnakes in Michigan. The western pond turtle is also a part of an AZA Species Survival Plan as well as its Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) initiative.

The Holden Reptile Conservation Center is home to 150 reptiles representing 70 species, nearly half of which are considered threatened or endangered in the wild.