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Cold-Blooded Creatures Featured At San Diego Zoo

Aired 9/28/12 on KPBS News.

The San Diego Zoo is showing off creatures of the cold-blooded kind to the public through Sunday. Love them or hate them, reptiles are the featured animals at the zoo for "Reptilemania."

The San Diego Zoo is showing off creatures of the cold-blooded kind to the public through Sunday. Love them or hate them, reptiles are the featured animals at the zoo for "Reptilemania."

San Diego Zoo animal ambassador Floyd, the blue-tongued skink, greeted visitors to Reptilemania.
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Above: San Diego Zoo animal ambassador Floyd, the blue-tongued skink, greeted visitors to Reptilemania.

It’s part of the zoo's Discovery Days where kids and adults learn about the homes and habits of reptiles and some amphibians. Zookeepers hold public feedings, pettings and Q & A sessions.

Animal ambassadors of the scaly variety are on hand throughout the day to educate visitors -- some even get a chance to touch the reptiles.

San Diego Zoo ambassador Rick Schwartz said parents often shy away from touching reptiles, but children are usually fascinated. He said people need to respect animals, like rattlesnakes, and not fear them since they are a vital part of the local ecosystem.

A Chinese Alligator relaxing in a pound at the San Diego Zoo.
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Above: A Chinese Alligator relaxing in a pound at the San Diego Zoo.

“They really help keep that balance, the rodent population is kept in check because of snakes and other animals like them that eat those rodents,” Schwartz said.

Events like Reptilemania help people see the importance of protecting wild animals and learning about the ones that live locally, he said.

"Some people have their own lack of knowledge maybe or not certain about what to expect with a reptile. We get that education out there and once that education's out there, they get to know more about the species,” he said. “That's when the compassion comes out and that's when we start talking about conservation, which is very important to us."

Schwartz’s favorite reptiles at the zoo are the Chinese Alligators, because they are very small, and Galapagos Tortoises, because he spent some time on the Galapagos Islands.

Galapagos Tortoise at the San Diego Zoo. Some at the park are more than 100 years old.
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Above: Galapagos Tortoise at the San Diego Zoo. Some at the park are more than 100 years old.

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