A cold-blooded look at animals

Got a reptile lover around the house? These hands-on events let your kids get their fill of all things that slither without the pressure to take anything home.

At 370 pounds and 25 feet long, the Burmese python at Serpent Safari is the largest in captivity. The exhibit also features the world’s largest anaconda and a rare white albino alligator, says Joan Singer, general manager of Serpent Safari. More daring visitors can have their picture taken with a python or a boa constrictor and pet a large tortoise from Africa.

Serpent Safari is a permanent exhibit at the Gurnee Mills Mall, 6170 Grand Ave., Gurnee. Hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6.95, $4.95 kids age 3-12, free for 2 and under.

The Chicago Herpetological Society’s ReptileFest 2009 features nearly 400 species of reptiles and amphibians, including pythons, corn snakes, boa constrictors and iguanas, says Jenny Vollman, of the society’s board of directors."The whole idea behind this is to educate the public and to let people come in contact with animals they normally wouldn’t come in contact with.” Although most are touchable, dangerous ones are kept in an enclosure.

ReptileFest 2009 will be held at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Physical Education Building, 901 W. Roosevelt Road, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 4-5. Admission is $8, $6 kids age 3-11. Visit reptilefest.com for information.

At Reptile Rampage 2009, hosted by the Wildlife Discovery Center, kids can touch snakes, lizards, turtles, tortoises and crocodilians, says Curator Robert Carmichael. Nearly 75 exhibitors will show reptile species. At a hands-off exhibit of traveling venomous reptiles, guests can see poisonous rattlesnakes, cobras and vipers from Africa. Equipment, supplies and informational books are for sale, but no live animals."In some cases, families are looking to actually purchase a pet reptile, so this gives them a chance to ask the experts questions,” Carmichael says.

Reptile Rampage will be held at the Lake Forest Rec Center Gym, 400 Hastings Road, Lake Forest, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 8. Admission is $5. For more information, visit www.cityoflakeforest.com.

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