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My Review of the Phoenix Herpetological Society

Discussion in 'United States' started by azcheetah2, 21 Feb 2012.

  1. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    I've been wanting to visit this facility ever since I first heard about it several years ago, but always thought it was a private sanctuary that the public was not allowed to visit. Fortunately, I was wrong. I emailed them and asked about a tour, mentioning I was a photographer with a large interest in crocodillians and a tour was set up fairly painlessly. I showed up with my camera and was recognized as 'that photography lady who emailed us'. Don't know if that's good or bad. hahaha. A very interesting thing I learned about the place is that they are considered to be a fully functioning zoo, although you'd never really know it.

    The first thing that anyone will notice is the large, and I do mean large, number of tortoise species they have on property. We were introduced to a fully grown Russian tortoise, who isn't much bigger than a Desert Tortoise. They have several 'outside' enclosures for them that we looked at before going 'inside' the main part. I should say here that they have two gates that are closed when they don't have visitors so it's not like someone can walk up to an 'outside' tortoise enclosure and steal it. The 'inside' enclosures are not inside a building, but rather just within a series of fences. In the first area we visited, there were 7 wallabies. These Wallabies were confiscated by Fish & Game from someone who'd illegally imported them to Arizona and were going to be destroyed, but were brought to the Herp center instead. They didn't stay around for long and allowed to go almost anywhere they want.

    In the African Tortoise exhibit, we were invited to go in and feed them their breakfast. It was still a little chilly, but warmed up while we were there and soon they began eating everything in sight. One large male, named Big Max, just plopped himself in the middle of the veggies put out for them and went to town. We were told they get their produce from 3 grocery store chains for free, which is good, but they'd like it to be more. They said that some stores are reluctant to donate produce in case something happens to one of the animals and it gets out to the public that it came from Grocery Store X.

    After the tortoises we went to the lizard house. The Phoenix Herp Society is home to several very rare lizards and because it can get cold in the desert and cold air makes reptiles go to sleep, they put the most valuable ones inside a small building with heat lamps. Unfortunately, after walking around the room, I was 'forced' to leave due to the level of humidity so I can't tell you much about it. Unfortunately, it seems I missed our guide showing us a Gila Monster, which I would've liked to have seen. From the Lizard house we went to the classroom and that's when things got interesting. Our guide said they had the most venomous snake in that room as well as the rarest rattlesnake. Unfortunately, the Inland Taipan was in a terrarium on the floor and I couldn't really see him. The Taipan is considered to be the most venomous land snake there is. The snake that caught my interest, though, was the King Cobra named Elvis. As I was walking down the row of terrariums, I saw him 'standing' and hooded. Apparently he didn't like us being in there. A girl on the tour accidentally bumped the glass of his terrarium and he struck out at her. Fortunately, though, there was glass between them. A little while later a boy accidentally hit the glass and Elvis struck again. It was pretty cool.
    In addition to the Taipan and King Cobra, they also had several spitting cobras, a Green Mamba and several types of rattlesnakes, including an albino Diamondback Rattlesnake. The albino snake had been donated by the parents of the 22 year old previous owner who'd been bitten and subsequently died less than 24 hours later because he didn't get medical help.

    The last stop on the tour was the crocodillians, which is the main reason for my being on the tour. The Herp Society is home to Nile Crocodiles, Saltwater Crocodiles, Dwarf Crocodiles, Caimans and several Alligators. In fact, when we first arrived and were waiting to start the tour, several of the gators started to 'roar' and we were told that captive gators don't usually do that, but theirs did. It was real cool.

    If you ever get a chance to visit this place, and you like reptiles, I would highly recommend it. I apologize if my review was 'all over the place' and lacked exciting-ness that I've seen in other reviews, but I'm a story writer, not a reviewer. hahaha. I will post pictures as soon as I can. I think I got some good shots of Elvis.
     
  2. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the review. I had never heard of this place, but if they have a king cobra, nile crocodiles, saltwater crocs, etc. then it sounds like a major collection. Maybe this helps explain why the Phoenix Zoo has a relatively small reptile collection? I look forward to seeing your pictures. Very tragic about the 22 year old that was killed by his rattlesnake.
     
  3. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome. I imagine it's not widely known about because it doesn't have regular business hours and you have to schedule a tour. I learned about it on the local news. The saltwater crocs are a new addition and has turned the Wildlife World Zoo into a bit of a liar because their commercials claim to have the state's only saltwater crocs.

    You know, that's a good theory about why the Phoenix Zoo doesn't have a large reptile collection. They have the snakes and stuff in the Arizona Trail, but that's it. When the last of their 3 alligators died off, they tried bringing in a Cayman for that exhibit space (not the large one the 3 shared together, but where the otters are now), but for whatever reason that didn't work out.

    I'm really hoping the photos I took of Elvis turn out. It was the first time I'd seen a King Cobra and to see him with full hood and striking out was pretty cool. And yes, it is quite sad about the young man being killed by his pet rattlesnake. Several of their rattlesnakes were donated for the same reason. I'm glad they weren't just destroyed outright.
     
  4. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    Being an Arizonan myself, I find this fascinating! I have heard of the place, but like you thought it was closed to the public. I had no idea of the kind of collection they have. I knew about alligators, but saltwater crocs is surprising indeed! I too am a photographer and one thing I have always wanted to get was a cobra flaring its hood - but I have never seen them do that at any zoo I have been to (which is quite a few). Maybe I will have to schedule a field trip up there for the Reid Park Zoo docents.
     
  5. Arizona Docent

    Arizona Docent Well-Known Member

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    I was just looking at their website. Is their king cobra amelanistic??!!! :eek:

    (Fairly common with some snakes in captivity, but never seen it with this species).

    Also, before you post your photos, did you go to the new gallery request thread and ask for a separate listing for this place on ZooChat? (Unless it is already there - I did not check - but I do not think so).
     
  6. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    The saltwater crocs are new. They've only been here for about a month, if that. They sent some of their alligators to a facility in Florida and got the crocs back in return. I don't think you'll be disappointed if you visit.
     
  7. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    I had to look up that word before answering. No, Elvis is not amelanistic, but they do have a King who is, according to the website and a picture of a sign I took. I must have missed him. From what I remember, Elvis is a normal color. I remember him to be dark.

    No, I didn't do that. I was wondering how I would post my photos if there was no category for that place. Thanks for the heads up.

    I can't find that thread. Could you please link it for me? Or at least tell me where to look? Thank you.
     
    Last edited: 22 Feb 2012
  8. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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  9. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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  10. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    The 2 galleries have been added and I have put in 3 cell phone pictures from PHS. I'll add more soon.