There were snakes and turtles and lizards, oh my.
And that's not all.
This weekend, the UIC Physical Education Building has been
transformed into its yearly reptile and amphibian show, where
40,000 square feet have been taken over by scaly, skin-shedding,
hard-backed, teeth-baring creatures. All are friendly, of
When making our annual pilgrimage, my 4-year-old and
18-month-old pet, hugged and nearly crushed their fair share of
turtles and snakes, and not once were they hissed at or bitten
(although I wouldn't have blamed those super patient animals if
they had at least made an angry face).
The reptile festival, which is operated by the Chicago
Herpetological Society and sponsored by Chicago Parent, is the
largest educational reptile and amphibian show in the country - but
thankfully, it doesn't feel overly crowded.
Arriving in the morning can be a little cramped, but in the
afternoons, the space opens slightly and it's pretty easy to walk
right up to every reptile without more than a minute's wait.
The people working the event must be some of the most patient
exhibitors we've experienced, and they happily described their
reptiles, wiped grime from toddler fingers before placing their
beloved pets into those hands and didn't flinch when those tiny
arms nearly dropped those fragile creatures.
It made for a wonderful day. My 18-month-old was a little timid
at first, but she was relieved to see something she thought looked
to be a dog. Instead, however, it was a gigantic turtle casually
crawling about the space. When I explained her mistake, she
realized that the small turtles weren't as scary as they seemed
(although the giant one was to be feared) and allowed them to crawl
over her legs as she waved "hello."
My 4-year-old loved having snakes wrap themselves around her
neck like extravagant necklaces, and didn't event mind when they
pulled in a little too tightly (it's worth the pain, she
There were too many creatures to mention - but expect to see
everything from Burmese Pythons to Bearded Dragons at the festival
- and if you ask nicely enough, you just may get to pet just about
Danielle Braff lives with her two daughters and husband in downtown Chicago.
See more of Danielle's stories here.
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