Sunday, September 16, 2007

Herpfest! Tucson Reptile & Amphibian Show and Sale

This is a picture of me romancing a monitor last weekend at the herpfest. It was fun, but I left feeling deeply dissatisfied.

I was so excited about the event, that I actually wrote this:

"The Tucson Reptile & Amphibian Show and Sale is coming up in just two weeks! I am so excited that I'm actually posting about something coming up as opposed to after the fact. I mean, that's foresight.

I was in a class in The Writer's Studio with Mark Wolfson a few months ago when he wrote this awesome short story about a snake. It was the first piece of fiction that Sonoran Herpetologist ever published. Congrats, Mark!"

Okay so, I still love Mark. He's such a nice guy. But Mark, you have to hear this:

The venue chosen for this event was way too small. We need a bigger space! Everyone was packed in there so tight that I left before I was ready to because I was just feeling too damn claustrophobic.

Now, if the event was stressful for me, what about the animals? I've never seen so many snakes and turtles in Tupperware before. And what about the the tortoises who were in the Rubbermaid storage so small for them that their heads and legs were pushed up under their shells the whole time; like the alligator we all enjoyed petting but who must have been freaking out, unable to bite our heads off due to the electrical tape around his snout; like the freedom-loving lizard who pushed the lid right off the cream cheese container he was imprisoned in before my very eyes. I should have fended off the vendors while he made a run for it.

The thing is, when I added all this stuff up, all the things that made me uncomfortable at the herpfest, I realized why it all bugged me. It seemed that, although there is obviously real love and dedication for reptiles there, the bottom line is definitely $$$. And it felt like some vendors love their animals in the same way that farmers love their cattle.

I would have been much more satisfied if there had been a stronger educational push at the event. Even the Phoenix Herpetological Society van didn't bother to post more detailed information about their critters. How old was that albino python? What part of the world are they originally from? What does he eat? What does he weigh? Could he really have me for dinner?

I guess I could have stuck around for Bill Love's talk on "Beyond Photographing Reptiles: Strategically Placed Snakes and Naked Latinas", but as a feminist Latina that just didn't appeal to me. (No, that wasn't really the name of his presentation, but from his posters I judge it could've been.)

So I walked away not knowing the difference between a lizard and a gecko, why bearded dragons are so popular, what kind of monitor I had just made out with, or why our Reeve's turtle, Fred, can't get a girlfriend. There could have been at least some more posters or labels or speakers. Tucson's Reptile and Amphibian show could have been thrilling (they even sell beer!) but alas, I felt let down.

Footnote: Why do so many weird people go to the herpfest? (I use the term "weird" with all due respect.) It was like that the week previous at the Tucson Alternative Energy Expo, too. Andrew's answer: "Pets on the fringes = pet owners on the fringes. Alternative energy = alternative lifestyles." That seems too predictable to me, but whatever...


Anonymous said...

Responding to Eva's comments. I agree, the venue is too small. That's why next year the Tucson Reptile and Amphibian Show will move to the Tucson Expo Center and triple the size of the space. This will allow everyone, reptiles & humans to spread out. The way reptiles are displayed for sale is not the way that they are kept in captivity. Most people create elaborate natural environments. Two thirds of the show was devoted to the sale of 'captive bred' only animals. But a third of the show was exibits put on by the Phoenix Herpetological Society (there van was just finished and lacked much of the writen info you would have liked, the Tucson Herpetological Society, The T-Rex Mueseum, AZ Game & Fish, The Herpetological Research Org, The Arizona Herpetological Association, Dr. Richard Funk. Also, every vendor was a well spring of info. However, you would have to ask a question. There were a couple of vendors that did not house some animals in what I would consider a proper manor, they will not be allowed to attend future shows. By the way the 'latina' with the strategically placed snakes name is Lena, she is Russian and signed her poster for me.
I still love you too Eva,
Mark Wolfson

Andrew said...

Ta da!

Eva said...

Thanks for weighing in, guys! I'm all about checking out the Herpfest next year...(Nice addition, Andrew. Leave it to you to actually find the snake boobies...and sorry for calling you a Hot Latina, Lena.)